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Why digital disruption is only starting in healthcare

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Disruption often is viewed as a positive noun in the business world. Particularly in healthcare, such disruption can result in increased understanding and enhanced outcomes, among other benefits.

Healthcare has clearly benefited from the digital technology disruption. Modern medicine, at a high level, leverages innovation for better diagnostics using X-rays, MRIs and numerous other scans, more comprehensive research and global collaboration, more agile testing and results processes, and thus, advanced comprehension of biology and disease that leads to improved treatment and prevention.

But as these disruptive forces rise and depend on digital technology, healthcare organizations will need to revamp IT approaches to manage the flow of secure transactional data and improve their ability to integrate information sources for big data initiatives.

The healthcare industry has had plenty of major technology breakthroughs in recent history—notably, the MRI, electronic health records (EHRs) and sequencing the human genome—and continues to experience ongoing digital and technological disruption. And data is currently disrupting this already “disrupted” field.

As far as medical technology advancement has come in improving patient care, it’s only been part of the disruption equation. Data generated by such technology, when successfully aggregated, integrated and analyzed, is paving the way for a new breed of innovative medical solutions and improved hospital operations. Data promises to close many of the current gaps in care and offer solutions for future ones, but paradoxically, its digital rise signifies one of the biggest challenges healthcare organizations will face in the future.

Digital platforms connect networks of people and systems to share information and interact with one another. But when we’re talking about an industry that requires countless systems, applications and people having a hand on just a single transaction, there are a number of important variables to consider.

The complex healthcare ecosystem, with its growing number of endpoints and legacy technologies trying to exchange exponentially more and massively larger files among those endpoints, requires heightened connectivity, security and governance for the critical digital communications that power the industry.

Additionally, the mobile, on-demand nature of our lives now has put more pressure on healthcare organizations to better serve patients in more consumable ways. Self-service offerings like online health and insurance portals, digital appointment scheduling and telehealth-type capabilities are now standard components of the patient experience.

This lifestyle shift even includes the desire to eliminate many of the physical healthcare hoops—like submitting paperwork via traditional fax and having to visit an actual hospital—by leveraging technology so that delivering and receiving medical care is less of a hassle overall.

Nonetheless, the asynchronous telehealth platform by which the patient submits data that is collected and reviewed by a health professional at a later time is obsolete. Healthcare is a collaborative, on-demand interaction that takes place in real time, and supporting these modern approaches with a scalable integration and data movement solution will be key to managing the digital disruption.

Digital innovation in healthcare isn’t just an investment in EHR applications, purchasing a bunch of tablets or installing desktop fax capabilities on everyone’s PC. It’s a joint strategy between IT and business units to better leverage resources and make healthcare more timely and more accessible.

That strategy should strive to connect the endpoints within the burgeoning healthcare ecosystem, including:

  • Patient information, lab results, scans, and other data—including the output from wearable devices—between doctors, hospitals, and clinics
  • Healthcare providers’ communications with insurance groups, health exchanges and other payers, which include the exchange of enrollment and payment information with Accountable Care Organizations
  • Expeditious and secure FDA submission of research information, clinical drug trials and other regulatory exchanges
  • Manufacturing and distribution supply chains for drug and medical equipment organizations

All of these functions require data communications mandated in some form by the requisite HIPAA and Meaningful Use compliance regulations. Secure and interoperable transmissions for comprehensive integration and continuous compliance related to all data movement executed across the healthcare’s digital matrix are essential.

Savvy organizations seeking to embrace and proactively manage this data disruption, then, adopt enhanced digital integration technology that supports:

  • Diverse communications protocols to communicate with various endpoints
  • Extensive format variation to meet every partner’s data needs
  • Continually evolving international, federal, and state regulatory standards
  • Large-file transfer to accommodate the rise in genomic and medical imaging data
  • HDFS and Amazon S3 connectivity for big data initiatives

The future of medicine resides in how well healthcare networks manage their secure transactional data information flows and how well they deploy comprehensive integration capabilities for larger big data initiatives.

Data will be the common denominator rippling through the healthcare sector for years to come. But too many organizations still don’t have a strategy to address data patterns and still rely on less secure technology and outdated, homegrown solutions for modern communications.

New tools, discoveries, techniques, regulations, and new types, sources, and applications of medical data are disrupting an industry that’s already disruptive by design. If improving and extending lives means healthcare organizations have to adopt new ways of serving patients, then investing in solutions to optimize processes and manage the data flows among people, systems and applications will be indispensable.

Supporting the smooth flow of data within provider networks, and with patients, insurance companies, and research facilities requires advanced integration capabilities, systemic interoperability, security and governance. Embracing a digital platform that delivers these requirements positions organizations to navigate healthcare’s never-ending state of change, mitigate the less productive “disruptions” and ensure continuity of quality care.

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