Interoperability in Digital Health: Driving Innovation for Better Patient Care

Data interoperability in the digital health industry is more than just a buzzword: It stands for the potential to transform the way healthcare providers exchange electronic patient data. In this article, we will explore the importance of interoperability and the challenges it faces. Find out how to discover companies in Biotechgate that lead the development of interoperable health data systems.

Seamless Data Exchange is Key

At its core, interoperability is about enabling various systems and technologies to connect effortlessly and communicate effectively. In the context of healthcare, this means the ability of multiple stakeholders in the health ecosystem, such as hospitals, pharmacies, patients and researchers, to access, securely exchange and interpret patient data. This includes scenarios such as a laboratory sending results to a clinic, hospitals sharing admission records and analysing patient data from personal connected devices like wearables.

Much like ensuring that different brands of smartphones can send text messages to each other, healthcare interoperability revolves around standardizing data formats and communication protocols. Current digital health systems are inundated with large data volumes and a wide variety of standards for storing and sharing them. Different formats create complexity, making it more difficult and time-consuming to clean and process unstructured data.

Interoperability’s Positive Impact

Interoperable data can help improve medical communication in a number of ways. Here are some examples of the benefits:

  • Operational efficiency: Streamlining data sharing liberates healthcare professionals to focus on patient care rather than navigating complex data systems. This efficiency translates into better patient outcomes and cost savings.
  • Continuity of care: Patients experience seamless transitions between different healthcare providers and settings. Their medical records follow them wherever they go, ensuring consistent, well-informed care. It gives patients greater control as they can more easily access their treatment plans and other medical information.
  • Reduced errors: Accurate, complete data helps avoid medical errors. Interoperability reduces the need for manual data entry, prevents the omission of crucial information and improves medication management.

The Challenges Ahead

There are still various challenges on the path to seamless interoperability. Obstacles are complex and include:

  • Data security and privacy: Often cited concerns in the context of interoperability are an enhanced vulnerability to privacy breaches and security threats. Robust security measures are essential. Regulations and technologies such as blockchain hold the promise of supporting data safety and controlling who has access to sensitive information.
  • Technical complexity: While steps are being taken to establish common standards for managing patient data, integrating diverse systems with varying technologies remain complex and costly.
  • Human-centered factors: Healthcare organizations may hesitate to adopt new systems or standards due to associated costs and efforts. Staff may initially be reluctant to adapt to new workflows.

Companies Addressing the Issues

Given the high potential of interoperability to modernize healthcare and improve patient outcomes, numerous digital health companies and start-ups have taken on the task of finding ways to overcome the challenges.

The New Zealand-based healthcare software company Orion Health Ltd, for example, focuses on achieving interoperability by connecting health systems and data across entire regions. Through their Health Information Exchange (HIE) platform, they enable healthcare organizations to securely share patient data, leading to improved care coordination.

ARKHN, a French startup, offers innovative solutions that bridge the gap between different healthcare systems for a flowing data exchange. Their standardization approach aggregates databases of different medical software in a data lake to improve their quality and uses AI to extract relevant information. Moreover, it facilitates sharing data in an encrypted manner via an Application Programming Interface (API).

The Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC) is dedicated to developing standards for clinical research that support accessing, exchanging and archiving data for drug development. Their standards promote interoperability by ensuring that data collected in clinical trials is structured and can be easily shared and analyzed across different research organizations.

Exploring Interoperability Innovators Further

In Biotechgate, you can find these and many other companies pioneering interoperability solutions under the “Digital Health” sector with subsectors such as “Electronic Medical Record / Electronic Health Record” and “Medical Big Data & analytics”. In addition, use the keyword “Interoperability” in the text search to discover them.