“Software vendors are just not playing well in the sandbox together.”
That point was recently posited by SearchHealthIT writer Don Fluckinger in a post that asked a very timely question on the state of the healthcare information technology industry: “Are HIT Vendors Selfish?”
The answer seems to be a resounding “Yes.”
It’s becoming clearer every day that healthcare needs to be a connected industry. The future of healthcare must be one in which the sharing of health information is secure and streamlined. That means whether data is shared from a nurse to a patient, from a primary care doctor to a specialist, or from the system of one HIT vendor to that of another, the process should be seamless.
Exchanging healthcare data or medical billing information in today’s healthcare environment, though, can be a huge challenge, thanks to the pervasive lack of interoperability among most of the major IT players in the industry.
Technology exists that can easily connect medical establishments to one another online, enabling secure communication and data exchange, but many healthcare IT vendors are slow to adopt it.
Despite remarkable advances in cloud computing, most HIT vendors are continuing to rely on the outdated client-server software model and failing to develop more advanced platforms that are capable of interacting with outside systems.
The medical industry wastes over $700 billion annually on avoidable, identifiable issues like administrative inefficiency, lack of coordination, unnecessary care and provider errors. Outdated technology and non-interoperable systems contribute significantly to that total by making the exchange of digital patient data an unnecessarily difficult and slow process.
Despite the fact that 57 percent of office-based physicians use an EHR or EMR system, the fact remains that in this age when you can easily do everything from buy your movie tickets to file your taxes online, medical chart transfer requests are still usually handled via fax machine and snail mail.
HIT non-interoperability is largely the reason for that. So why are vendors refusing to cooperate?
“In the health care IT world there is a perception – an incorrect one – that the key to profitability and long-term relevance is a hoarding of information, despite the open-source economy that grows exponentially each day,” wrote Jonathon Scott Feit, MBA, MA, the co-founder and CEO of Beyond Lucid Technologies, in a piece on Forbes.
Simply put, established HIT vendors have long-believed that growing to a large client base and becoming the technological “owner” of each of their customers’ data strengthens their position in the market.
That exclusivity-focused position is shortsighted, since the technology existing to serve the healthcare industry is advancing at a rapid pace. Try as legacy vendors have to “corner” the market, consumers and analysts recognize that connectivity and collaboration are critical to the future of the practice of medicine.
By keeping their data siloed and failing to engage in interoperable information exchange with other vendors, the client-server players in the market are causing mass inconvenience and administrative spending to clog up the overall healthcare system.
This is one of many reasons that a modern, up-to-date system that operates in the cloud and is designed for data exchange can better serve the evolving needs of a twenty-first century medical practice.
The core of the CareCloud philosophy is to connect healthcare, so our solutions were created to work together as a complete digital ecosystem, but were also developed with the ability to integrate with the products and services of other IT vendors. The CareCloud Central practice management system, for example, can interface with specialty-specific EHRs to easily manage patient data at every step of the claim process from scheduling to collections.
This interoperability is one reason CareCloud’s services are available “a la carte” via software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings. Practices can choose to go on the CareCloud platform at the level they need – whether for appointment and patient administration, for electronic health records, or for full back-office revenue cycle management outsourcing – without losing connectedness to their other systems.
As more and more Meaningful Use dollars are doled out, healthcare providers are continually faced with the choice to contract with the most advanced technological systems to best serve their practices or invest in outdated technology that isolates their data.
As Jonathon Scott Feit put it in Forbes, “When companies realize that there is more money to be made in solving problems than building firewalls, health care information will flow like honey, and the cost to access vital data will drop.”
Until the old-school vendors accept an interoperable future, a cloud-based system with the capability for data exchange will be the most financially sound, connected choice for clinicians, their businesses, and their patents.