Overcoming barriers to advancing interoperability
While public and private healthcare players are aligned on the importance of interoperability when building a robust digital health ecosystem, achieving interoperability remains a challenge. Silos in healthcare delivery, policy and regulatory gaps, concerns about data security and identity, and existing fragmented solutions create more problems than improvements.
Dr Malcolm and Prof. Sylvia shared their experience from having pursued interoperability in different settings. Dr Malcolm Thatcher shared that while Australia’s interoperability journey has spanned over 10 years, challenges persist. Its healthcare ecosystem, like many other countries, is complex, with multiple stakeholders within both public and private healthcare providers across primary and tertiary care. It is not the agreement on the standards but the adoption by different players that has proven to be a challenge. Many primary care providers are struggling to invest in moving solutions to cloud, let alone achieve interoperability – thus slowing the process for all.
Prof Sylvia shared that while Germany is now ahead of many countries in being able to enhance interoperability within its healthcare system, many healthcare providers lacked experience and expertise in the area when they initially began the journey. Additionally, because there were significant concerns about data security, attempts to obtain data from the public to improve care delivery also proved challenging.
Jan explained that while it is exciting that the region’s healthcare systems are committed towards expanding care settings, this must be done strategically to avoid fragmented point solutions that can cause blind spots in patient care, and workflow bottlenecks, resulting in higher costs. Healthcare IT systems face a deluge of patient data, often split among various specialties, departments and sites. He elaborated more on how enabling smooth data exchange across healthcare players is key to streamline clinical workflows and improve care collaboration, sharing that several healthcare enterprises and health systems have created connected suites of information systems to drive efficiency and enhance the quality of care.
However, in digitizing the health sector, there is also a big expectation for cost control without compromising the quality of care in a region as complex as APAC. This calls for healthcare providers to identify and collaborate with the right partner to advance the interoperability journey and ensure enterprise level efficiency, while acknowledging the unique needs of each organization.
Combining enterprise level efficiency with diagnostic imaging expertise can enable healthcare providers with simple and secure data integration across specialties and between institutions, allowing clinicians to make better precision diagnoses. The right partner can integrate clinical workflows to ensure that the systems are vendor neutral and multi-vendor positive too, allowing interoperability to be achieved without the need to change vendors. Interoperability solutions that can empower a variety of vendors across various platforms for seamless flow of information across care settings are the need for the hour to establish trust among major healthcare IT and clinical players.
With the right policy framework and public-private partnerships being vital in creating changes towards better healthcare, the public sector across APAC can work hand in hand with experienced partners that enable the implementation of localized standards and can impart valuable insights throughout their journey in interoperability.