Health IT: An industry ripe for disruption
Only consumer-centric and interoperable solutions will survive the next decade
For the first time in history, healthcare is on a fully digital platform, with nine out of 10 physician offices using an electronic health record (EHR) today. With EHRs firmly in place, healthcare must now build an ecosystem that works with that platform to deliver more value. In a conversation with Allscripts CEO Paul M. Black, we learn why he is optimistic about the future of healthcare IT and why it is an industry ripe for disruption.
How Will Ehrs Develop Over The Next Several Years?
PB: EHR developers have been keeping pace with regulatory requirements for the last decade, but today there is a renewed focus on usability. How can we make these systems more intuitive? How can we overcome day-to-day workflow challenges to deliver more value? How can we make EHRs “smarter” to give users the right information at the right time?
For too long, users have had to adapt to less-than-optimal solutions, and that comes at a cost. When ‘provider wellness’ suffers, it can negatively affect decision making and patient safety. As an industry, we need to consistently use user-centered design principles to create the solutions that relieve these burdens, enable access to all relevant community data and improve quality of care.
What’s Next For Interoperability?
PB: The shift from fee-for-service to value-based financial models raises the stakes for interoperability. Providers can earn more if they solve the technical challenges that obstruct coordination and collaboration.
For many years, the conversation around interoperability has been focused on doctor-to-doctor information exchange. But now that EHRs are commonplace, a variety of interoperability use cases highlight all of the opportunities that exist “above the EHR.” We have moved beyond merely creating connections. Today’s advances of semantic interoperability and workflow solutions make data more impactful for caregivers and patients.
As an industry, we need to work toward increased access for stakeholders and a framework that improves patients’ access to their own medical records. Our EHR-agnostic consumer platform gives patients a single place to store their data from multiple organizations using disparate EHRs.
Every step toward greater clarity and consensus enables us to invest confidently in new interoperability technologies and standards, such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), and helps the industry abandon habits that have been keeping information locked away.
What Role Will Application Programming Interfaces (apis) Play In Improving Interoperability?
PB: Allscripts has been in the API business for as long as the iPhone has been in the market. Momentum of this open API strategy is tremendous, and these toolkits will help make data more mobile in a simple, cost-effective way. We have a huge ecosystem of clients and third-party application program developers. A robust approach to open APIs will play a big role in achieving the potential and promise of interoperability, if vendors embrace them and providers adopt them.
Through the Allscripts developer network, we’ve helped healthcare applications exchange data nearly 3 billion times in just four years, and that rate continues to climb. In August 2017 Allscripts hit a new milestone by facilitating the exchange of more than 100 million data shares within a single month.
Health IT is always about the patient. By giving innovators access to APIs, providers can integrate the innovations that matter most to their patients.
What Will It Take To Disrupt Healthcare It?
PB: Large EHR systems are not going to be fully disrupted anytime soon. However, EHR vendors need to offer an open platform that encourages innovation and connection to other systems. If they don’t, they will be disrupted much sooner. Consumers are demanding more than ever before and will continue to expect mobile, consumer-friendly technologies. Consider recent studies that find 70% of patients want to request refills electronically and predict 64% of patients will schedule appointments using digital tools by 2019. They’ll also require not just access to their health information, but control over it as well.
In 2018 and beyond, new entrants to the marketplace – such as IBM, Google or Amazon – will be focused on the patient’s experience in healthcare. They will be focused on making it much easier for the consumer to manage healthcare. We are also taking this approach, recognizing that patients require data as mobile as they are.