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How to Ensure Clinical Data Integration for Your Healthcare Company

Paul Kovalenko Paul Kovalenko | November 28, 2022 | 8 min

A recent report revealed the fact that the volume of healthcare data has increased from 153 exabytes in 2013 to 2,314 exabytes in 2020. Healthcare organizations deal with various types of data including billing, R&D, pharmacy, and patient data, so data integration is of utmost importance for the industry.

Clinical data integration is about collecting the information from all departments of the organization, payers, and third-party vendors in one interface and enabling smooth data exchange among all entities. An integrated healthcare system can significantly improve the quality of care and streamline the business processes.

In this article, we will discover why clinical data integration is a difficult but very important issue in healthcare, what benefits it offers, and how facilities can integrate data adequately.

The Importance of Data Integration in Medical Organizations

Medical data integration is not only a question of benefits but of great importance. Facilities that neglect clinical data integration store data in different formats, rely on legacy software that can’t adequately process the ever-growing amount of data from different sources, and can’t enable smooth data exchange with other care providers. Such a state can lead to serious downfalls including the following ones:

  • Incomplete information leads to medical errors. It is possible that there will be shifts and mistakes in data while trying to exchange information between two institutions with different EHR/EMR systems. A lost allergy or health history overall may lead to a medical mistake which is a third leading cause of death in the United States accounting for 251,000 deaths each year.
  • Unstructured data can’t be used for predictive analysis. A massive 80% of all clinical data is unstructured which means that the information can easily get lost and cannot be used for predictive analysis. The lack of healthcare data integration also leads to misconceptions about public health which is especially dangerous now, in times of pandemic. 
  • Lack of data standardization may cause security issues. Only a protected system that corresponds to all the legal regulations should be used for data exchange within departments of one organization or between different organizations. Due to the lack of standardized ways of adequate data exchange, medical staff finds questionable exchange channels in terms of security which endangers patient confidentiality.  

So data integration for healthcare businesses promotes better treatment, offers more opportunities for predictive analysis, and ensures data confidentiality. 

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5 Steps Towards Safer And More Efficient Clinical Data Integration

According to a survey, 85% of hospital executives delay the implementation of their data integration strategy because of various obstacles. A recent HIMSS media report has revealed the main healthcare data integration challenges which are illustrated in the graphic down below:

Source 

Data integration for healthcare organizations needs a complex preparation process and a planned roadmap. So, we want to give you 6 steps that will help you to get the integration process plan in place. 

Choose the Right Technology 

53% of common medical devices operate on legacy software that may support only a few data formats. For a successful clinical data integration, a facility needs a solution that will be able to support different data formats, standardize them and give an adequate final result that is readable and accurate. 

The best decision here is to develop a custom solution that will have all the needed data formats for your entity and can be altered later to fulfill the new needs in the years to come. 

There are also two pre-made clinical data integration solutions that can be considered:  

  • The first option is an Enterprise ServiceBus (ESB). It works as a middleware between the systems enabling communication between them by transforming data models,  handling connectivity, performing message routing, and converting different communication protocols. 
  • The second option is Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS). It is a set of integration tools that enable real-time access to data stored in different locations and in different formats within the individual organization or across multiple facilities. 

Thoroughly Prepare for the Data Integration

It is better to review and update all the data before you start data integration in healthcare systems not to migrate inaccurate, outdated, or duplicate data.

It is also important to assess which data formats are impossible to integrate in advance. If you ignore that step, this data may simply be lost because you will not be able to read it on the new platform. So it is better to detect such data in advance and find a solution to its safe migration.

Any data migration process is associated with the risk of losing data pieces. That is why creating backups of essential information is a step that shouldn’t be ignored. 

Source

Deal with Unstructured Data

Structuring all the volumes of data would simplify the integration process. Consider setting up workflows for collecting, processing, cleansing, and exchanging the data from various systems in your healthcare organization.

Set Priorities 

Clinical data integration implementation is not done in one day. It is a continuous process so that disruption in work is as minimal as ever. Consequently, prioritize what data should be integrated first and what can wait for a bit. 

Employ Cloud-Based Solutions to Store Data

Many healthcare organizations still face the challenges of siloed IT systems that do not support data exchange with other systems thus keeping information trapped inside without the chance for standardization.

Cloud-based solutions along with message standards such as DICOM protocol enable healthcare organizations to get a unified view of all information retrieved from various systems.

Create User-Friendly Interface for Accessing the Data

Take a look at your data from a new perspective: what data types are mostly used, how they are used, and what for. It will help you to understand how to work around different data types and present the final result in a way that is meaningful to the different types of end-users.

Benefits of Data Integration for Your Healthcare Company

With so many challenges to meet and decisions to make, is clinical data integration and management really worth it? Our short answer is yes, our long answer is in all the benefits healthcare data integration has to offer. 

Improved Interoperability

Healthcare data interoperability is defined by Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) as the ability of different systems to communicate and exchange information with each other. Healthcare data integration would enable quick and smooth data exchange between different healthcare entities. Consequently, clinicians will also avoid entering data that already exists but can not be accessed, asking patients the same questions over and over again, and gaining access to information from any device that they need. It means more time spent on actual healthcare rather than burying yourself in papers and administrative tasks. 

Need help developing HIPAA compliant app?
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Informed Decisions 

According to a NewsWire survey, 8  out of 10 healthcare managers state that the use of advanced analytics for decision-making in their organization is negligible. One of the reasons is the unstructured data splattered across different systems and departments that cannot provide valuable analytics results. Consequently, facilities make decisions based on some seventh feeling and ignore the potential of analytics altogether. 

However, data consolidation enables healthcare organizations to optimize staff scheduling, detect early signs of downfalls in public health, reduce readmission rates, or find high-risk patients earlier. 

Opportunity For Better Researches In Healthcare

Humans have quite limited capabilities when it comes to analyzing lots of data and seeing the big picture. It includes historic data of many years. However, machine learning enables technologies to find valuable patterns and insights in different diseases. For instance, AI can predict cancer now more accurately and there are devices that show signs of heart diseases weeks in advance. 

It would all be impossible with unintegrated data or will have too many inaccuracies that will rather harm the research. Data integration in clinical systems will make a drastic change in healthcare quality and treatment accuracy. 

Better Healthcare Apps

Many end-users see healthcare apps as a burden rather than a helping hand. Physicians still have to manually enter data in many sources which increases their burnout. However, if you will be able to actually integrate all the needed data in one place, healthcare apps will help you to run the healthcare institutions effortlessly. 

Get A Full Overview Of Individual Patients

Patients use numerous healthcare providers nowadays and their information is evenly spread out across different institutions. One has lab results, the other has a full allergies overview, and the other is in charge of chronic disease treatment. However, everything in the body is connected and a clinician could provide better treatment if all the information is available. Data integration makes it possible. Doctors now can gather all information about the patient across the healthcare industry and have quick access to it which is especially important in emergencies.

Our Successful Integrations

Langate has worked with Approved Admission which is a premium provider of insurance eligibility verification services. By monitoring changes in  Medicaid, Medicare and HMO insurance payers Approved Admissions helps healthcare facilities avoid billing mistakes and reduce time spent on administrative tasks.

The client needed to access and retrieve information from different systems that used different data formats. To address this challenge, Langate developed a configuration-driven integration platform that exchanges data across the systems, standardizes it, and eventually displays it in a user-friendly interface. 

The solution developed by Langate has helped the client to achieve its interoperability goals and gain a solid customer base consisting of over 500 healthcare facilities in the US.

Concluding Remarks

Healthcare data integration requires a lot of preparation and data studying. On the other hand, it offers many benefits, such as better treatment, less paperwork, well-informed decisions, and room for better and more accurate healthcare research. 

If you have decided to create a custom solution that will support all the data formats you need and provide the user experience tailored for the needs of end-users at your institution, do not hesitate to contact Langate

We have more than 10 years of experience in healthcare technology and data integration, so we will gladly take over the challenges of your project and deliver a timely and high-quality solution. 

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