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Tuesday, June 23, 2015 1:39 AM

Improve healthcare IT workflows: 4 Steps to overcoming integration challenges

Written by Rich Murphy, Product Director - iatricSystems

Learn how to improve healthcare IT workflows with integration image

With the future of healthcare moving to value-based care, physicians will be paid based on outcomes. So it's important for the provider, and for the patients' benefit, to make sure the outcomes are as good as they can be.

To move in this direction, providers have to have all the information about the patient readily available. This is the crux of the drive towards interoperability. And it's evidenced by ONC's urgency in targeting 2017 as the timeline to have nationwide interoperability according to the draft ONC National Interoperability Roadmap that was released earlier this year. The question that some are asking is if this timeframe is achievable, given all of the complex factors involved.

But some hospitals and health systems already have interoperability. Our customers have been moving toward this goal for a long time. We help hundreds of hospitals daily transfer data between systems in order to improve patient care.

While all of the regulations are being worked out, there are things that you can do now to move in this direction too. It will put you that much further ahead if you can make sure that your own systems can share data and improve your own workflows now.

There are 4 key steps to improving workflows with integration:

  1. Identify “broken” systems that will have the biggest impact
    You likely have several systems that don’t share information. When you're trying to decide where to spend your IT dollars, it's important that you understand what projects will have the biggest impact, either on your bottom line or in benefits for the patient. If you’re lucky, you can do both. St. Luke’s did when they took on an integration project to electronically send information to the Social Security Administration. They saved thousands of dollars in staff productivity, and they shrunk disability claim times from 6 months to only weeks. <read the full article here>
  1. Prioritize problems
    Look for areas that are costing your hospital staff hours in manual work entering duplicate data or even in some cases, still dealing with paper records. Are there obvious examples where simply the ability to transfer data automatically would save hours of manual work? These projects should move to the top of the priority list. A quick evaluation of the hours and dollars saved can be a great reason to move a project up in priority, often with a small time/money IT investment.
  1. Evaluate your staff resources
    Once you have identified key projects, it's important to do an evaluation of your in-house staff expertise. A lot of hospitals tell us that they struggle to find the right resources that can accomplish a wide variety of IT projects. Or, if your staff is tied up on other more complex high priority projects (like Meaningful Use), be honest about your team's ability to tackle additional projects. If you don’t have the expertise in house or if they're tied up on higher priority projects, look for a vendor that has experience that can get the job done efficiently, on time, and on budget.
  1. Have a well-thought-out implementation plan
    Healthcare Informatics conducted a survey, “An Assessment of Interface Projects”, which found that 34% of hospitals don’t have a formal plan in place to manage integration projects, which resulted in 56% of interface projects being completed only sometimes, rarely, or never on time. This can have a huge impact on your bottom line in wasted time and resources. Having a well-thought-out plan can ensure that your projects get done on time, and that resources are allocated appropriately.

To learn more about the steps that you can take to make sure you have a solid plan, identify the right resources, and overcome your integration challenges, listen to this on-demand webcast.