Improving outcomes with connected health care

By Jonathan Stern, Regional Vice President of ANZ, MuleSoft
Thursday, 30 January, 2020

Improving outcomes with connected health care

Despite advances in medical devices and biotech like MIT’s robotic thread, the health industry is battling a technology paradox: hidden behind the promise of cutting-edge medical breakthroughs, backend healthcare IT systems are ailing and archaic.

The health sector operates like an orchestra to deliver the optimal patient experience. Different groups — general practitioners, specialist doctors like dermatologists and osteopaths, surgeons, nurses and even medical devices like smartwatches — form the various families of the orchestra that work in coordination to deliver a seamless performance.

In an orchestra, the conductor brings all of the instruments together to create a beautiful sound. In health care, it’s the IT systems that should aggregate all of the data and expertise from each touchpoint of the patient’s journey to create an optimal treatment experience. With application programming interfaces (APIs) serving as the conductors between the various systems inside and outside of the hospital, healthcare providers can build a connected application network to achieve a holistic, single view of patients.

In health care, having a single view of the patient could literally save a life. Healthcare IT has the ability to start breaking down data silos in order to bring the healthcare ecosystem into connected harmony.

Why is connected health care a challenge?

Most healthcare IT systems are built on architecture that has been around for years, if not decades. Solutions that were once revolutionary and formed integral parts of many organisations’ IT architecture have often become difficult to integrate with newer technologies and capabilities like cloud, IoT and big data. As a result, legacy systems are keeping healthcare organisations from achieving the agility and connectivity they need to offer the seamless customer journeys people have come to expect.

As hospitals look to unlock valuable data from legacy backend systems and integrate them with new-age front-end technology, they are finding the process costly and time-consuming. A recent report found that, on average, Australian organisations have 837 individual applications but only 27% are currently integrated together. Hospitals and healthcare providers are no exception, as they struggle to manage data stored in multiple formats across cloud, on-premises and hybrid infrastructures.

Legacy systems aren’t going to disappear overnight; many healthcare providers rely heavily on them. With so much business logic embedded in these systems, any rip and replace approach is uneconomic and not worth the risk.

Using API-led connectivity, healthcare organisations can modernise, repurpose and ‘API-ify’ these systems to unlock data and move more quickly in response to emerging technologies. Through the healthcare apps and services they enable, APIs can facilitate better health outcomes. Patients become better connected with their physicians to collect and report patient data, providing faster and more up-to-date patient information and streamlining healthcare operations such as better-predicting staffing needs.

Prescribing an integrated solution

APIs can enable the appropriate providers to access critical patient data instantaneously. With a single view of the patient, healthcare providers can offer more tailored and effective care.

The dream of having all patient information in one central repository is an illusionary goal. The solution outlined here connects all data, applications and devices at source, to deliver the complete, up-to-date view of a patient’s medical data. This new model for health care is patient-centric and holistic, offering a single view of patient data and even going so far as to integrate directly with a patient’s mobile health apps and wearables to bring the same levels of service and personalisation to the health sector that people have come to expect in other aspects of life.

For example, a person with a chronic condition such as epilepsy can utilise apps on their personal devices to monitor their health and, with APIs, the apps can alert the patient’s GP or caretaker when a seizure is triggered. Also through APIs, the GP looking after the patient can share resources or developments related to epilepsy, which gives the patient more tools to manage their condition while also increasing their overall satisfaction with the care they receive.

By taking an API approach, healthcare providers can overcome data silos and antiquated legacy systems. Ensuring that health professionals can gain a single, holistic view of a person’s full health history is a performance deserving of a standing ovation.

Image credit: © a nice day

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