January 26, 2016

When large healthcare delivery systems need to integrate data from different systems, they are often forced to hire consultants and vendors for expensive, time-consuming, custom integration projects. Telehealth integration projects typically involve connecting systems, integrating data sets including cleansing and normalizing data, and integrating an increasing array of mobile devices.

The grand goal is to connect all of these incoming mobile data streams to the core clinical systems—most importantly, the EMR. In many cases, telehealth integration with the lab and radiology information systems will also be imperative for providers to view and share images and test results. These critical interfaces will enable a complete and single patient record, eliminating duplicative efforts and gaps in data.

Integration with telehealth systems including consumer health apps also allows for real-time updates to caregivers for managing high-risk or otherwise disconnected populations. Telehealth visits, of course, must be also integrated with financial and claims management systems for reimbursement and accounting purposes. Finally, integration is critical to achieve the broader goal of regular reporting on costs and outcomes.

In the past, point-to-point integrations, custom-built by systems integrators, were the norm. Yet that approach is not scalable given the rapid expansion of applications and data sources for tracking and managing patient care. New approaches and considerations for telehealth integration include:

Aggregator Software

Healthcare data integration technologies from companies such as Validic and PilotFish side-step the need for point-to-point integrations by using a hub and spoke architecture. The one-to-many connectivity software hosted in the cloud connects data from digital health applications, devices and wearables to core clinical and financial systems and minimizes or eliminates custom coding work. This is making it easier and more cost effective to integrate data sets from mobile devices and apps, including telehealth systems.

Device Interoperability

To support remote patient monitoring and wellness programs incorporating data from personal health wearables or apps, healthcare CIOs will need to resolve device integration challenges—namely, the lack of standards around communications protocols in medical device and consumer device marketplace today. Devices must integrate smoothly with the provider’s EMR and the telehealth platform to complete the loop on patient monitoring and remote diagnosis.

There are five core requirements in making device integration successful.

  1. Interoperability—interfacing with medical devices that use different communication protocols
  2. Data acquisition, translation and standardization
  3. Custom interface support
  4. Seamless data exchange
  5. Data security and reliability

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