A Product Manager's View: Interoperability, Bigfoot, and Unicorns

By Derek Morgan, Director of Product Management

By now you’ve passed through the gauntlet of the electronic health record mandate. The blood, sweat and tears. The cost overruns. The hours. The frustrated clinicians. The promises. The reality. In the end one thing is clear: the journey isn’t over. The hopes and promises of reducing vendors and solutions and achieving interoperability…..yeah, still not quite there, at least not yet.

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This was confirmed in a recent Black Book survey of provider EHR users. “For Q1 2018, 62 percent of hospitals are not using information outside of their own EHR because external provider data is not available in their EHR systems’ workflow. One-third of respondents also said that the data that they can view cannot be trusted because of the disparate systems between providers.” Again, the journey isn't over.

 

Some things haven’t changed much at all, like the persistence of fax technology in healthcare. Defying the times, it continues to be a standard method of exchanging information in healthcare. How does that fit into the new "digital" world?

 

Other capabilities, like voice recording, seem to stand apart from other solutions in healthcare. Voice recording is an everyday norm in other consumer-driven industries, but in healthcare, it’s a whole new world. Most vendors in this space treat healthcare as just one of their many target markets. Very few are optimized for healthcare needs beyond just quality scoring. What about the recordings that could save the organization enormous amounts of revenue? 

 

Even where integrations between EHRs and payer information have been implemented, such as eligibility checks, users discover the returned data is frequently different from what they find by manually going to a payer’s site. As a result, they end up doing double the work. Aren’t we all looking to do half the work in half the time?

 

How do we keep track of all this communication from disparate sources? We still have the bottom-line challenge of managing a lot of disconnected data.

 

As a product person, I understand that integration is one of the biggest issues plaguing healthcare today. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and often thwarted by systems that – let’s be honest – don’t make it easy to share data with other systems. Dealing with it firsthand in hundreds of hospitals has given us a lot of perspective on the problem, and we’ve become adept at solving our client partner’s challenges in creative ways.

 

In an article focused on the challenges of interoperability, Vyne CEO Lindy Benton stressed the need for the interim ability to manage unstructured content and share it between systems as the work of EHR interoperability continues. "

 
Solutions that facilitate the secure, audit-able exchange of data in its current state-whether paper, image, electronic document, fax or voice - give hospitals the ability to safely manage and share unstructured data often stored outside the EHR.
— Lindy Benton, CEO, Vyne
 

At Vyne, we focus on integrating systems, so clients can securely exchange data and gain access to relevant information at the point of need. Physician orders faxed to scheduling, benefit information pulled from web sites, authorization received from payers, self-pay estimates given to patients – all of this disparate data (and more) can be captured and automatically integrated to the patient record through the Trace platform.

 

These revenue cycle processes are especially important, as Black Book’s survey found that “69 percent of healthcare consumers cited business office and insurance processes as the most important moment when overall satisfaction of a hospital organization is concluded.” Furthermore, 80 percent of consumers were likely to blame the hospital and not the technology for a lack of patient record portability and access.

 

Coming up with solutions that eliminate paper processes in a world where fax is still prevalent, automating manual tasks like watching for missing orders, moving things electronically from one system and into another, linking call recordings to a patient’s chart are just a few examples of how Trace is providing incredible value to our customers by connecting important information that would otherwise exist in disparate worlds. Getting the right information to the right people at the right time helps facilitate faster response times, smoother transitions and better outcomes and experiences for patients.  

 

Knowing we’ve only scratched the surface, we are constantly talking about the next steps we can take to better connect the data that our customers need in order to drive patient satisfaction, financial performance, and quality assurance. Utilizing data captured with AI to help prevent denials, enhanced dashboards and analytics to give managers better business intelligence, and comprehensive toolsets to measure quality across all processes are examples of some of the challenges we are tackling. 

 

As stated by Benton, “While there is no magic bullet for interoperability success, the industry presses on with more optimism than we have seen in the past. With continued development of standards, growth in technology and collaboration among stakeholders, the right pieces are in place to reach that goal.”

 

Molly MaronBlog