Rising healthcare costs, demand for improved patient experiences, a growing elderly population and growing momentum toward value-based care models are putting immense pressure on the healthcare community.  Across the healthcare ecosystem, various entities are taking steps to help, and connected health technologies are emerging as a very real opportunity for relieving the burden.  While adoption of telehealth, remote patient monitoring, and other connected health services is growing, there are still several barriers keeping physicians from maximizing their impact.    

One of the largest challenges is true interoperability, particularly when it comes to Electronic Health Records (“EHRs”) and the ability to truly integrate the data from patient experiences – including information from connected health platforms.  While EHRs are intended to improve processes and care, doctors believe the opposite is actually happening.  They say 62% of the time dedicated to each patient is spent in EHRs, and almost half believe EHRs actually reduce their practices’ effectiveness.  It’s not surprising, then, that 71% also believe the current state of EHRs is a significant contributor to burnout, and 67% place EHR interoperability at the top of their wish lists.  In a separate study, 67% of physicians agree, saying interoperability is the most significant requirement for increased adoption of connected health services. 

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) recently released a new white paper, in which it discussed the need for improved interoperability to drive the improvements in efficiency, productivity, quality, and sustainability promised by connected health. 

In its report, the ATA lists seven areas where interoperability is needed to move towards and equally efficient healthcare delivery system in the United States. 

Unique patient/member ID – 

Must be implemented with rules for registration authority throughout entire flow of healthcare services and payment, including telehealth and onsite services and payer systems. 

Patient/member health data – 

Must be securely shared with enterprise data warehouse (EDW), electronic health record (EHR), picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), telehealth platforms, and claims and utilization management systems for timely access and reimbursement, population health management, and performance reporting. 

Telehealth workflows –

Must be interoperable between care management solutions (EHR) and cross-vendor telehealth solutions. 

Remote Examination –

Requires interoperability among disparate video solutions. 

Patient Data Capture –

Requires interoperability with diagnostic medical devices and remote monitoring devices. 

Patient/Member Communication –

Requires interoperability between communication platforms, scheduling, and communication devices and capabilities.

Interstate Licensure –

Required to compress the time and expense associated with delivery of care across state lines. 

Connected health use is growing and these services have value on their own merits, considering most patients report positive experiences.  However, while physicians understand the benefits and some are finding ways to effectively leverage telehealth or remote patient monitoring (RPM) to help some of their patients, connected health is nowhere near becoming the standard for care yet.  With additional work to standardize EHRs and enable interoperability between all systems – not just some – the value proposition of connected health can grow and help create a healthcare system that is sustainable, can deliver high-quality care to all patients, and drive successful population health initiatives.   

To learn more about how connected health standards can help deliver better care, connect with us here. 

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