By Gary Palgon, VP Healthcare Solutions, Liaison Healthcare Informatics
In early December, the World Health Organization will be holding a forum on health data standardization and interoperability at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The organizers of the forum have said that interoperability is essential to reaching the full potential of information and communication technologies. Lack of interoperability not only wastes resources, but it can lead to patient deaths.
The World Health Organization is on the right track. The United States’ health care system wasted $750 billion in 2009. The figure may have been as high as $765 billion. The second article references care being “fragmented,” while the first article refers to unnecessary procedures being a cause of this waste. These two are connected — if providers don’t have information on what procedures the patient has already undergone, they may do them again. And there are many ways interoperability failures can be lethal. If a medical provider is unaware their patient is allergic to an antibiotic, they may prescribe something that kills rather than cures. The more providers are involved in a patient’s treatment, the more likely important information will be lost along the way.
One way to help solve the problem of interoperability is the use of cloud technology. Platform-as-a-service, for example, can be used to integrate both cloud-based and on-premise applications so different users can access the information they need to perform their jobs. This allows different parts of the healthcare ecosystem, like physician practices and laboratories affiliated with a particular hospital or health system, for instance, to access synchronized data. Also, there are beginning to be cloud-based Healthcare Information as a Service solutions on the market which provide traditional on-premise solutions as cloud-based, real-time information solutions like patient indexing and data transformation and translation. So in the end, cloud-based solutions can be used to solve interoperability issues among different systems or different devices without a heavy infrastructure investment.