Interoperability, HIEs, and the State of the Industry

HIMSS19: causing us to examine interoperability

In the world of healthcare IT, HIMSS is the event of the year, every year. HIMSS19 is now upon the health technology community, and as always, it’s an event that stirs up great dialogue around the triumphs and challenges that are currently prevalent in the industry. For Concord Technologies, the HIMSS19 track “Health Information Exchange, Interoperability, Data Integrations and Standards” is particularly relevant to the problems that we are solving every day on behalf of thousands of customers here at Concord Technologies.   

What are we talking about when we talk about HIEs?

Healthcare Information Exchanges (HIEs) are defined by AHIMA as “the electronic movement of health-related information among organizations according to the nationally recognized standards.” HIEs were designed to recognize that most healthcare is provided by an ecosystem of disconnected providers, and that those parties would greatly benefit from the knowledge collected by the other healthcare providers.   

PHI Flow: Is this working?

Imagine being a patient who enters into a post-acute setting where the specialist already has a comprehensive understanding of everything that needs to be known from previous healthcare interactions. We have started to see the beginnings of this by chart-sharing, made possible by mass adoption of EHRs. And if you’re only going from the first floor to the third floor of a medical building where the providers are members of the same organization, many times this information does flow pretty efficiently.  Unfortunately, despite the rapid consolidation in the healthcare market, many healthcare experiences are from different provider organizations, and processes are much more complicated than taking an elevator from one floor to the next; as anyone in healthcare can tell you, more often than not, patient information doesn’t flow so freely. 

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A wrench in the works:The issue of unstructured data

When they were initially created by the Health Information Technology Standards Panel, HIEs actually did a lot to advance the efficient flow of information within the healthcare market. However, an overarching issue with HIEs seems to be that the panel didn’t fully recognize the prevalence of unstructured data within healthcare, and therefore didn’t adequately address how unstructured data would be folded into their mostly structured standards. The fact is that unstructured data makes up a great deal of all healthcare data; it’s anything that isn’t wrapped up in a spreadsheet or a relational database. And there is an unmeasurable amount of unstructured data involved in healthcare. This may not be the only reason HIEs have been slow to achieve their promises to the healthcare market, but it is surely a significant contributing factor.  

Concord’s Solution: Meet NEXTSTEP

This issue of unstructured data is where Concord Technologies comes in. Concord Technologies’ NEXTSTEP is a document automation platform built from the ground up to help address some very specific areas of healthcare where unstructured data commonly changes hands. NEXTSTEP allows users to capture, access, process and integrate documents that are largely unstructured and provide the security, reliability and controls often that are often lacking in solutions designed for non-highly regulated markets.

For example: The patient referral use case

One use case Concord customers often bring up are patient referrals, most commonly associated with a patient needing specialized care beyond what their primary care physician offers. For example, someone visits their family doctor with foot pain, goes through a bit of analysis, and the family doctor refers them to an orthopedic specialist. This notification to the specialist is often transmitted via fax. In some cases, the specialist sees the patient and faxes a plan of care back to the family doctor for approval. This is particularly relevant when there will be longer term care, such as physical therapy, that needs insurance approval. NEXTSTEP is designed to allow these providers to more efficiently get this information out of this unstructured stage of communication and seamlessly into their systems of records.

Visit us at Booth 520 at HIMSS19 for your demo

Heading to HIMSS19 in Orlando, Florida February 12-15, 2019? Come and learn more about how NEXTSTEP by Concord Technologies can help you and your organization more effectively communicate with the complex ecosystem of healthcare providers. Concord Technologies can be found at booth 520.

Ready to transform the way your organization manages its received documents? Visit NEXTSTEP to learn more, or contact us today to hear about how NEXTSTEP can be customized for your organization and implemented today.

Ready to Learn More?

Visit us at booth 520 at HIMSS19; explore how NEXTSTEP can work for your organization, and start managing faxes more efficiently.