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Understanding the Difference Between Telemedicine Integration and Interoperability

If you’ve been around the telehealth world, you may have experienced a bait and switch when it comes to integration promises. Often vendors will assure you they can integrate with your EHR and workflows. It sounds so efficient; you envision clinical data and PHI flowing between different facilities and systems. Then the telemedicine solution is deployed and you discover the vendor’s version of integration is limited to their video platform, allowing you to launch a video consult from your EHR. The data exchange you expected – and need – isn’t an option.

This scenario has become the standard in today’s virtual health programs. But this kind of integration isn’t complete and it definitely doesn’t enable interoperability. And when it comes to running a robust and clinically responsible telemedicine program, interoperability is vital.

The Danger of Integration Limitations

Let’s put the integration conundrum in practical terms. Imagine that I’m an urgent care center physician and we use EHR System 1. My first patient of the day says she was recently discharged from the hospital after a respiratory illness. Her story is vague, and I need more diagnostic and treatment information to proceed. But her hospital uses EHR System 2 which can’t talk to my urgent care system, so the hospital admission data stays in its system. The data from my center likewise stays in our system and doesn’t make it back to the patient’s original care team, who needs to know about her symptoms. Important clinical data is trapped in silos, unnecessary tests are ordered and her care is delayed – all of which could have been avoided if data flowed freely between all systems involved in the patient’s care.

Now let’s talk about it from the patient’s point of view. Your son, like a lot of kids, suffers from various ear infections and other minor afflictions in childhood. You, like a lot of parents, are busy trying to juggle doctor appointments and school activities and your own career demands – which is why you love telehealth apps. You don’t know what interoperability is, but you do know that telehealth convenience lets your son see a doctor without leaving the house. You can pick up his antibiotics and still make it to work in time for your morning meeting. It’s great…. until the years pass and your son has seen so many dial-up doctors who don’t know his medication history that excessive antibiotic usage has weakened his resistance.

GlobalMed’s Telehealth Data Revolution

Don’t get us wrong. Video integration and virtual video consults offer plenty of benefits. But they don’t make it easy for clinicians to share valuable data. Even PDFs going into your system won’t offer portable health data that can flow into the patient record. These solutions are not interoperable – and they really need to be when it comes to treating the chronically ill, reducing costs, and achieving other healthcare goals.

So here’s some good news. As innovators in virtual health data acquisition, GlobalMed is now capable of FHIR-enabled integration, bridging the clinical data gap to your health information system.  Additionally, GlobalMed’s Dynamic Integration Management Service (DIMS) ensures that the eNcounter system is continuously configured against your environment so that as your system changes, so does eNcounter. This hands-off, self-healing approach to configuration management allows you to avoid ongoing development costs typically associated with the balancing act of managing tenuous system integrations. By routing clinical data appropriately as systems change over time, you’ll never be left to wonder where you’re storing your patient’s data.

Essentially, we’re enabling interoperability in telemedicine so you can deliver full-service virtual care. If you think the implications are big, you’re right. This change impacts everything in telemedicine, from patient outcomes to healthcare costs to provider collaboration. We’ll explain more about that in upcoming blog posts. For now, we just want you to know we’ve opened a new door to smarter telemedicine – and it’s going to keep getting better.

Learn more about how health interoperability is a possibility for virtual care delivery. Contact Us

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