Healthcare professionals work in highly coordinated teams across local territories to provide effective care for their patients. Today, healthcare teams are increasingly looking for easy-to-use tools that can help them efficiently and securely share and exchange patient data. Why? Because they need to access, monitor and add to patient information dossiers that will further enhance the quality of patient care. The interoperability of information systems is the starting point for achieving these objectives.
The challenges of interoperability in the world of healthcare
Digital healthcare services are providing better Information Systems (IS) for care coordination and improved patient care pathways. Interoperability, or the ability of systems to talk to one another using common norms and standards that facilitate the end-to-end management of data, is a key consideration in achieving excellence in care coordination through IS.
Interoperability and healthcare information systems are key prerequisites for the advancement of healthcare systems as a whole. Connected healthcare solutions such as the Digital Hospital, electronic healthcare data exchange and real-time access to patient records all help healthcare professionals to provide better, coordinated care. As these information systems evolve, they are increasingly centered on the patient/user/citizen. They remove barriers and facilitate exchanges between healthcare and medico-social care providers, hospitals and general practice, as well as between public and private sectors.
The transformation of our healthcare systems: progress towards the "Ma Santé 2022" program
Healthcare processes and workflows are now increasingly computerized, both in general practice and in hospitals. However, more investment and effort is required to bring these healthcare systems in line with quality requirements. For example, patient files are often still incomplete, both in general practice and in hospitals.
The development of mechanisms for the exchange and sharing of patient data between healthcare professionals is now a clear goal for public healthcare authorities. Key measures have been initiated in many countries to consolidate care-coordination practices and promote the transparency of patient pathways.
One example is France's Hop'en program, which stands for "Hôpital numérique ouvert sur son environnement" or, literally "The Digital Hospital open to its environment." This program is a continuation of France's "Digital Hospital" program for the modernization of hospital information systems that ran from 2012-2017. To be eligible for funding, hospitals need to fulfill prerequisites as set out in the roadmap. The new 2018-2022 roadmap maintains existing requirements (patient identity management, SI dependability/robustness, data privacy) and adds data sharing services via the electronic patient dossier, secure messaging services for healthcare professions and electronic inventories detailing the availability of local/regional healthcare services. Hop'en also adds new functional domains, such as online patient services, e.g., appointment scheduling, to existing ones (shared medical imaging/diagnostics, interoperability of computerized patient records, e-prescription and patient care coordination).
In addition to interoperability, other prerequisites should be considered for the integration of information systems
Hospital Information Systems (HIS) are made up of diverse and heterogeneous components. In France, regional information systems, which represent the integration of a number of HIS within a local area, have developed as a result of inception of the GHT (groupement hospitalier de territoire, or regional area hospital cluster). The integration of disparate HIS increases the complexity of systems as a whole. Beyond managing HIS complexity and heterogeneity, regional information systems also need to evolve, especially in the context of the shift toward ambulatory care and the resulting changes to healthcare services and care pathways. Additionally, regional information systems need to be customizable and adaptable to the specific needs of the region in order to reflect the hospital cluster's positioning within its territory and its relationships with the various governmental and non-governmental partners and institutions. Finally, the integration of healthcare information systems that are shared across territories require, above and beyond interoperability frameworks, key reflections around HIS urbanization, identity repositories for patients and hospital employees, and comprehensive security policies.
For further information on this subject, download a copy of Enovacom's white paper, “Patients and Their Data: The Foundations for Healthcare Transformation.” This paper offers an overview of the current situation regarding the exchange and sharing of healthcare data and provides future perspectives for putting the patient back at the heart of healthcare.
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As Enovacom’s Marketing and Communications Manager (European and North American markets), I am truly passionate about how new technologies, from connected biomedical devices to AI for predictive medicine, are transforming healthcare systems and putting the patient at the center of the care process.