Posts Tagged: data sharing

Immunization Interoperability: Barriers, Challenges, and Opportunities

immunization interoperability

The U.S. and the entire world are in the middle of the most extensive mass vaccination effort ever. The pandemic and inoculation are also creating lots of data. That’s data that needs to be shareable and exchangeable. In other words, immunization interoperability is paramount right now. The problem is that healthcare interoperability, in general, has a myriad of challenges and barriers.

The U.S. healthcare system is not a national one. That’s a big part of the problem. There’s no consistency around data or how to share it. Additionally, providers all use different EHRs, some that can exchange information easily and others that cannot.

Immunization interoperability issues aren’t new. The pandemic just shined a brighter light on them, like with so many others.

The U.S. Has 61 Immunization Information Systems

Did you know that the U.S. and its territories have 61 independent immunization information systems (IIS)? These align with different city and state health departments, and the CDC has governance

In 1998, there was a movement toward a national immunization registry, but it failed to gain traction. Instead, the IIS were established. While they do follow national standards, the operation is at the city and state level. Further, states also dictated immunization requirements for their citizens. 

How Immunization Interoperability Works Now

While it would seem that data is living in silos, there are current processes in place. Providers enter immunization information of patients into their EHR and send it to the IIS. In turn, some public health programs can access the information. IIS also sends information back to the EHR to support forecasts. 

Unfortunately, due to the lack of standardization around healthcare interoperability and data, it’s not effective across the board. 

The data exchange becomes complicated because there are inconsistencies in data formats, standards, and access. Different types of providers perform inoculations, such as primary care physicians, pharmacists, and hospital clinicians. 

What’s the Answer for Immunization Interoperability?

There’s no one answer or one pathway. Immunizations are just one small part of the bigger picture of healthcare interoperability. We’re just all more aware of immunizations right now and the discussions around digital vaccine cards or some other method of tracking and validating vaccines. 

Standardization of data formats is necessary, so that requires agreement with regulatory bodies and EHR companies. Simplifying the IIS seems like a smart option, as well. But, should there be only one? That’s probably not going to happen, just like there’s not a national patient identifier. The U.S. doesn’t have a national healthcare system. Each state has different laws and rules, and healthcare is, in most cases, a private business.

Investment in public health technology infrastructure is another must-have. The CDC is on board with this with its Data Modernization Initiative.

Data Must Be Interoperable to Be Actionable

The bottom line is that healthcare data must be interoperable to be actionable. If this information is only available in a limited capacity, it can’t serve the individual patient or the greater public. We’re extreme advocates for removing obstacles around data sharing. Data is the fuel for every industry’s future, and healthcare is no exception. 

InfoWerks: Expert Healthcare Data Movers

data movers

Healthcare data, it’s complicated. It’s also the engine of modern care delivery. Providers depend on access to the data, regardless of where it lives. Systems need to share it, and it has lots of regulatory demands around it. With so many challenges, healthcare organizations seek out experts like InfoWerks. We are professional data movers specializing in data conversions, archiving, and sharing. 

Here’s what we can offer the healthcare ecosystem.

Data Conversion Pioneers

Our roots are in data conversions, and our founders performed the first one for a pharmacy way back in the 1990s. Before that time, if you wanted to move to a new system, the conversion was manual. Now, over two decades later, we continue to perfect this process, ensuring accuracy and compliance. 

We can work with any platform and have the expertise to overcome hurdles such as field matching. Our team of in-house programmers and analysts has conducted thousands of conversions. Our objective is to make it as stress- and pain-free as possible.  

Data Archiving: Retain Records, Ditch Legacy Systems

The next solution we created was data archiving. We found that many organizations didn’t want to convert all their data to a new system. They also didn’t want to leave a legacy system running, as it’s risky and expensive. This need in the industry influenced us to create ViewMaster.

ViewMaster is a centralized, web-based platform that lives in the cloud. It’s HIPAA-compliant and offers accessibility to old records. It meets record retention mandates and has features to create audit reports in a few clicks. This cost-effective solution helps you say goodbye to clunky, hard-to-use legacy systems.

Data Sharing: Breaking Down Interoperability Barriers

Moving PHI data can put a lot of stress on IT teams. However, it’s often a necessity to ensure that two systems can talk and exchange. Without data feeding between the two, those applications may be useless. Scaling such operations can be difficult, as well. 

To alleviate some of the pain points of healthcare organizations, we can facilitate easy data sharing. It’s a better, secure way to transfer your PHI. 

Data Movers to Ensure Accessibility, Portability, and Interoperability 

As adept data movers, we’ve yet to encounter a project that was impossible. Our technical and business folks are able to work out plans for the most complex data problems. We welcome a challenge and have the capabilities and experience to move your data wherever it needs to go.

Contact us today to chat about your healthcare data management needs. 

Why Secure Healthcare Data Sharing Is Crucial

healthcare data sharing

In a digital world, we’re all used to how easy it is to exchange data. One might think that’s how the healthcare industry works. After all, most people have more than one doctor, and it’s a good idea that providers have access to the entire history of a patient. Unfortunately, healthcare data sharing isn’t that simple. While the push for interoperability is a goal of the U.S. healthcare system, it’s still challenging for most. 

The Risks of Healthcare Data Sharing

The risks associated with data sharing in healthcare exist because records contain personal health information (PHI). HIPAA mandates are very specific about how to handle PHI, whether internally or externally. Encryption methods must be in place for the secure exchange of information. Many organizations consistently do this through integrations; however, health system IT teams often lack the bandwidth for these projects. While the risks are real, there may be even more risk to patient care without sharing. 

Healthcare Data Sharing Challenges

So, why isn’t data sharing routine in the industry? It’s a complex problem—one that’s prevalent. A study by the Center for Connected Medicine found that only 69% of healthcare IT leaders said they were effective at data sharing. The report details that stakeholders are making more moves toward interoperability. Many are switching EHRs to make this easier. 

CMS and HHS took on the subject last year with the interoperability rule. This rule wasn’t just about the interchange of data between providers but also enabling patient access. COVID-19, however, impacted its rollout. Challenges persist regarding standardization, unstructured data, and security concerns. 

Healthcare systems are taking strides, but they often need support from data management companies because their internal team lacks the capacity or expertise. 

The Benefits of Sharing Healthcare Data

There are many benefits of data exchange in healthcare, including:

  • Improving patient care when clinicians have a full picture of their history.
  • Population health management, which is critical right now in the pandemic. 
  • Reducing medical costs with continuity of care, which could prevent emergency room visits or readmissions.
  • Better medication adherence and prevention of prescription adverse reactions.
  • Large-scale analytics for chronic disease or genetic studies.

For healthcare to seamlessly move into the 21st-century and beyond, efficient data exchanges are vital. 

The Security Aspect

First and foremost, any PHI sharing activities must be compliant with HIPAA. There are misconceptions about HIPAA and data sharing. However, HIPAA’s intent was to ensure secure data sharing among parties. HIPAA doesn’t prohibit data sharing; it simply provides a framework to do it securely with encryption and other protocols. HIPAA is not a barrier.

The security concerns are high because healthcare is a huge target for hackers. Anyone in healthcare knows that there’s safe exchange of every data from electronic prescriptions to lab work to referrals to specialists. Consistency in security is what stands in the way, and that goes back to IT bandwidth and capabilities.

Secure Data Sharing Can Revolutionize Healthcare

If healthcare gets data sharing right, then the industry can finally fully evolve. There are so many possibilities and efficiencies. It could improve care, help organizations make better decisions, and reduce overall costs. 

If you’d like to know more about data sharing and how we can help, watch our video