The shift to value-based payment models and the push to integrate health data from a range of sources could signal the end for traditional health information exchanges (HIE) and pave the way for more advanced pathways for interoperability.
Health IT vendors have been “de-emphasizing HIE as a concept,” according to a report released by Chilmark Research that profiled eight health IT vendors. Instead, they are searching for ways to look beyond simply sharing data among providers by integrating and analyzing health data from a variety of sources to improve clinical decision making and target specific patient populations.
Transitioning industry toward the use of open application programming interfaces (APIs) will be a key driver behind that shift to improve interoperability and enhance functionality.
Rather than conventional data exchange methods used through HIEs, APIs would allow data to remain where it was created and permit secure access from a variety of applications.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) included open APIs in its 2015 edition of EHR certification and has indicated it is focusing on that approach to improve seamless and secure data exchange.
However, the ONC’s previous chief privacy officer has acknowledged the potential security concerns that exist with open APIs.
Data management is becoming an increasingly complex concern for both providers and vendors. With more data flowing into the healthcare industry, researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Harvard called for organizations to focus on a “data science strategy” that addresses data quality, security and evaluates the potential for analytics.
“Organizations without an effective data science strategy may never realize returns on their investment in electronic health records (EHRs), may have disillusioned physicians and may face potentially catastrophic security risks resulting from inadequate data protection,” they wrote in NEJM Catalyst. “The stakes are high.”