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Data Interoperability; A Key Component for Connected Health Systems

Data Interoperability; A Key Component for Connected Health Systems

Interoperability is necessary within the health institutions themselves and vital for the portability of services.

The digital transformation process that the health sector is immersed in, and the subsequent change in relationships between the main actors of this ecosystem, was the epicenter of debate at the Milenio Foros Salud on July 13th in Mexico City. First-rate experts from the sector took part in this event, where they debated the present and future changes, challenges and transformations of healthcare systems.

Mario Chao, VP Healthcare of NTTDATA Americas and CEO of ehCOS, spoke in the panel entitled “From providers to partners: the new relationship between healthcare companies and hospital systems” that focused on the importance of data interoperability and accessibility for achieving what is known as connected health.

One of the main challenges facing health systems today is the portability of patient data and to achieve this, it is imperative to have a universal healthcare scheme. Portability implies huge challenges in terms of policies, processes, health system organization, as well as the technological challenge of guaranteeing the interchangeability of all the health data, whether generated by clinical systems, Electronic Health Records, administrative systems, medical devices or even wearable devices worn by patients.

However, for Mario Chao, a challenge as complex as the interoperability of health systems can only be addressed in a planned and conscious way, eschewing isolated actions. We must work on the assumption that the universal scheme and portability ultimately seek to ensure continuity of care and that the health system can provide timely, safe and quality care.

Although Electronic Health Records play an important role as the central registry of all the patient care, it is essential that all the information systems in the sector interoperate with one other in order to achieve a connected health system, which is vital for the portability of these services.

Single patient record as the basis for the integration of information

A basic element for the integration of information is the unique patient identifier.. If each citizen-patient has a different code assigned in each healthcare organization, it is difficult to integrate their information and subsequently interoperate and guarantee the safety and quality of care.

Latin America advances in terms of interoperability

Centering on the message of interoperability of health systems in the region, important steps have been taken in this regard in Latin America, and especially in Mexico, with measures such as the Single Patient Record led by the DGIS in Mexico, or the SINBA System, which establishes national interoperability schemes for certain data domains.

However, interoperability is not just a public or federal-level task, it must encompass all the actors in the system; including insurers, public hospitals, private hospitals, etc.

Today it is hard to find a healthcare organization in our region that can clearly affirm that it interoperates openly with any other organization. It is also highly probable that they have internal interoperability problems, or what users commonly call “systems that don’t talk to each other”.

The health sector is not immune to digital transformation, and we have more and more data, in different formats generated by new actors. Health providers must be able to collect, access, share and use quality data, regardless of the different systems and platforms that coexist, such as different health record systems.

Even the patients themselves generate and record data that we must integrate n order to achieve coordinated, safe and timely care. For this reason, effective population health management requires consistent and precise data.

Efficiency and quality of health systems

Another of the issues addressed during the panel discussion was the need to achieve continuity of care, portability and/or the exchange of information in a precise manner. This issue is at the center of worldwide debate and impacts all the health sector agents, whether public or private.

If we want health systems that are efficient, but also economically sustainable, we must achieve a connected health system.

One of the conclusions of the panel was that an interoperable health ecosystem is much more than an effective communication between clinical files to improve the quality of population healthcare. The new challenge is to try to offer better care to the communities and reduce the healthcare costs, and shift to new value-based healthcare models. Interoperability is essential for achieving this and must enable widespread, real-time data exchange throughout the entire health ecosystem.

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Mario Chao

VP Healthcare everis Americas & ehCOS CEO.


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