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Report reveals reluctance to embrace interoperability in healthcare

The medical profession needs to improve the state of interoperability and embrace the benefits of digital transformation, MedicalDirector’s latest whitepaper shows.

Surveying more than 320 industry professionals, the whitepaper, Interoperability in healthcare: Synergising an industry, found while interoperability is paramount to an efficient system of care as well as more accurate patient diagnoses, there is some reluctance and fear around embracing technological change.

Data and security concerns top barrier to change

A lack of education and widespread anxieties about the security of moving patient data and information appear the strongest impediments to achieving interoperability in healthcare.

According to the report, ‘data’ has now been recognised as the bedrock of high quality healthcare in Australia, but many working in the industry still don’t have a complete understanding of what data sharing and interoperability actually involve and are therefore reluctant to embrace it.

Many in the medical industry are unsure about the security of moving sensitive patient information around, especially now given the exponential rise of cyber attacks and data breaches. In fact, 76% consider the security of information being stored or sent their greatest area of concern in regards to managing patient information.

Although 80% of respondents recognised the value of real-time collaboration, and data sharing as having the potential to optimise the industry, lack of understanding and anxieties still exist around security, presenting significant hurdles to its industry-wide uptake.

Meanwhile only a third of respondents were satisfied with the current flow of information between their practice and other healthcare providers.

Alarmingly, the report further revealed 17% of people saw three of more health professionals for the same condition, and of these 12% reported that there were issued caused by a lack of communication between the healthcare providers.

Benefits of interoperability and cloud-based systems

The whitepaper stressed the most significant benefit of moving towards more interoperable systems is what it means for coordinated care and improved patient outcomes.  Value-based healthcare, can improve both the experience of the patient and the experience of delivering care for healthcare practitioners. It can also help to reduce hospital admissions, curb unnecessary expenditure and alleviate pressure on an already burdened system, the whitepaper found.

Benefits of interoperability identified by the report include increased care co-ordination, time savings, more efficiencies in practice management and better research.

The report also revealed the benefits of cloud-based health solutions, which provide the digital infrastructure needed to effectively coordinate patient-centred care, while interoperability facilitates the transition to healthcare that becomes the shared responsibility of the patient and practitioner. When it comes to the cloud, 64% of respondents admitted they consider flexibility to be the main benefit of using a cloud-based HER/PMS systems.

What next?

Moving forward, in order to enable more ideal healthcare, the white paper stressed these results indicate the need for greater communication between systems, practices and healthcare professionals that will ultimately deliver a more holistic view of a patient’s health. This will in turn, better inform personalised care plans that empower patients to manage their own care and avoid repeat GP visits.

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