The healthcare sector has always been at the cutting-edge of technology innovation, as new advances continue to offer hope for improvements in clinical services and patient outcomes. However, more recently, healthcare organizations (HCOs) around the world have come to realize that there’s just as much to gain from tapping into the power of cloud and app-based services, Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable devices, AI, and other emerging technologies that are revolutionizing consumer lifestyles and wider industries. These modern capabilities and technologies offer a great opportunity to provide seamless patient journeys and improve clinical outcomes. However, the success of such initiatives depends on HCOs’ ability to create a single, unified view of each patient across multiple platforms and providers, which remains a significant challenge.
Improving the healthcare experience
Technology presents both a challenge and a solution for healthcare providers. On the one hand, it’s unlocking tremendous value, enabling HCOs to vastly improve the levels of service they can offer. Globally, three-quarters of adults that have used at least one healthcare service such as a GP, hospital, or pharmacy say that digital services have improved the standard of care they receive.
These experiences could include anything from booking an appointment via an app, to receiving a video consultation. In hospitals, experiences could range from smart check-in and outpatient services, to connected medical devices and patient infotainment systems. Cumulatively, these offer the prospect of delivering a more personalized, connected experience to patients, whilst enhancing clinical outcomes and improving operational efficiencies.
However, these technology innovations also create extra complexity that could present a roadblock to achieving the desired benefits. The sheer number of options patients have today to access healthcare-related services has created a number of data silos across clinical and non-clinical sources and providers, and IT lacks the ability to rapidly connect it all together. This is problematic in any sector, but is absolutely crucial in healthcare, where incomplete patient data could seriously impact the quality of care delivery.
Integration is the key
Siloed data across EHR systems, proprietary databases, and thousands of Mhealth applications makes it difficult to create a comprehensive medical profile for each patient, which can lead to gaps in their journey and ultimately lead to longer wait times, incomplete medical diagnoses and unintended medical expenses. MuleSoft’s 2020 Connectivity Benchmark report reveals that integration challenges continue to prevent the healthcare industry from delivering truly connected patient experiences. In fact, 32% of IT decision makers in the healthcare sector claim that integrating siloed apps and data is one of their organization’s three biggest challenges to digital transformation.
While improvements to interoperability in healthcare and more connected care experiences are the answer, achieving them is proving to be a challenge. Often, HCOs’ IT departments are unable to connect the multiplicity of front- and back-end applications that support patient services. Over half (55%) of consumers say they receive a disconnected experience from their healthcare providers, while a similar number (53%) claim that a disconnected experience would make them consider changing providers.
The composable enterprise
To deliver the connected experiences that patients are increasingly demanding, HCOs need to unlock the underlying data from core healthcare systems, legacy apps, wearable devices, and popular third-party health apps. To provide the best care experience possible, healthcare providers need interoperability throughout the entire healthcare ecosystem to access comprehensive medical profiles. Only then will doctors and nurses be able to turn records into relationships and develop the personalized care plans and seamless patient journeys that are expected of them.
Efforts to achieve this should start with the shift to a “composable enterprise” approach, where digital capabilities can be composed from existing assets, rather than being built from scratch every time. This benefits IT teams in HCOs as fewer resources are required to get started and, going forward, they can be reused to drive further efficiencies. The composable enterprise is founded on reusable APIs that provide a standardized way to unlock data, connect systems, and build healthcare applications.
Digital transformation in practice
This API-led strategy is already helping global HCOs to drive innovative new experiences and improve care outcomes. For example, Sutter Health, a not-for-profit health system serving more than 100 communities in Northern California, has implemented this strategy to create a platform of reusable microservices that have transformed the scale, pace, and adoption of healthcare IT innovations. It has used APIs to expose data from Epic, health information exchange, case management, and call center applications, so its developers can quickly and easily compose new services to accelerate innovation without central IT as a bottleneck.
HCOs around the world are waking up to the possibilities of digital transformation. And with a rapidly aging population and rising consumer expectations, it’s come not a moment too soon. But to overcome endemic data silos and improve patient experiences and clinical outcomes, healthcare IT leaders will need to be bold. In the always-on, fast-paced society of today, that means embracing a composable enterprise approach based on API-led connectivity.