The Future of the Connected Healthcare System

The future of connected healthcare is here today. End users evaluating a system want to know that they are taking a step forward, not backward, and that a system that works with everyone using standards to interconnect is the only way healthcare can meet its stated goals.

Connected healthcare dates back to the late 1960’s yet has never held more promise than today. Healthcare cost, quality and efficiency are key, as is making healthcare more patient-centric by educating consumers and encouraging their participation in the entire process. The consolidation and sharing of data generated outside of traditional healthcare settings through RHIO’s, HIE’s, and others also creates the need for a comprehensive electronic health record.

Many facilities have realized the need to have a fully integrated system. The IHE (Integrating the Healthcare Environment) infrastructure outlines a host of methods to integrate documents and data, as does HL7 and even DICOM at the modality level. The goal of all these standards is to allow the seamless integration of disparate clinical systems into a single electronic health record (or EHR) that can take advantage of high speed networks and mobile devices.

Many vendors have begun to integrate their clinical imaging systems using a single viewer that displays radiology, cardiology, medical records and other clinical imaging system data using a single off-the-shelf monitor. Archives are moving in the same direction with a single vendor neutral archive (VNA) storing all the data for the required number of years, supplanting the single silos that used to be connected to each system. While a broker can bring together numerous disparate systems, minimizing the number of required integration’s is the name of the game.

By having systems connected, data can be shared and the patient engaged more easily. More importantly, larger health care systems like the HCA, Kaiser, Tenant, CHI, CHS and others, can provide not just a central clearing house for their patients but also allow their patients to use physicians associated with them. This is crucial for these entities to provide high quality care as healthcare moves towards a value-based system.

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