Interoperability remains a top struggle for healthcare organizations. Only 38% of hospitals can use or integrate outside healthcare data into EHRs without manually entering it, while a mere 26% of hospitals have the ability to execute the four core domains of health information technology interoperability: electronically sending, receiving, finding, and integrating or using key clinical information.
Health information technology interoperability is especially important as startups and enterprises develop technological innovations that can vastly improve healthcare operations worldwide. To make it easier for these businesses to develop these solutions, industry leaders have explored various methods of creating a connected interface that allows vendors to easily share and work with healthcare data.
Read on to discover two of the newest advances in health information technology interoperability, FHIR and open APIs—and how they work with advanced technologies like modern healthcare payment systems to cut costs and reduce inefficiencies.
What is FHIR, and What are Open APIs?
Currently, there are multiple healthcare-specific data standards, such as HL7 and X12. Each of these standards requires developers to represent data in a specific format. Even within a single standard, vendors mark their information in different ways — using unique codes for a single item. For example, one lab might send hospital blood work data with an alphabetic code for iron, while another lab will mark iron with a numeric code.
Healthcare IT experts have realized that if they standardize the way they represent data across all healthcare-related systems, sharing data will be far easier. Enter FHIR.
FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) is simply a standard that dictates the data formats, elements, and application programming interface that developers and IT professionals must use when exchanging electronic health records.
Open APIs are a revolutionary technology as well, though they are found in all industries and not just within healthcare. These are publicly available “application programming interfaces” that allow developers and IT professionals to gain access to participating online applications or services with the appropriate credentials.
Why Health Information Technology Interoperability Relies on FHIR and Open APIs
Technological innovation has disrupted nearly every industry, and healthcare is no exception. However, digital transformation has been slower in healthcare than these other industries. One reason for this is the industry’s reliance on EHR and ERP systems on various healthcare-specific data standards. This makes it difficult for software and web developers to work and create healthcare applications.
Startups and enterprises ready to improve healthcare organization operations waste time discerning which data standards vendors use and which specific markers they have chosen. Even established healthcare companies have to redevelop applications and software when healthcare organizations add new vendors to their systems.
In addition, when a web service doesn’t offer open APIs, developers struggle to access apps and software, let alone create custom solutions to integrate advanced products with existing healthcare systems.
When all healthcare technologies use FHIR to operate, IT professionals and software developers throughout the industry use the same exact data standards. Because they no longer need to waste time discerning the specific data standards of each vendor, innovators can simply focus on creating solutions instead of trivial, time-wasting tasks. Open APIs enable developers to integrate new technologies with speed. This enables the creation of custom solutions that enhance and improve current operations.
On a higher level, FHIR and open APIs help businesses save money by empowering them to seamlessly integrate all applications and software into mass ERP systems. With all patient data, supply data, and transaction data in one place, healthcare teams can perform all business operations and care operations in a single location. This allows greater overall coordination and efficiency in addition to transparency for high-level organization leaders.
Interoperability and Healthcare Payments
Financial planning and claims are a critical part of healthcare business operations, making up-to-date and streamlined financial management systems a top priority—and an excellent focus for organizations’ interoperability improvement programs.
FHIR and open APIs have enabled vast advancements in the field of healthcare payments; for example, when your company works with an ERP system that is FHIR-friendly and has open APIs, integrating a digital payments system is easy and expedient.
Take healthcare payments system AmplaPay. If your ERP system has open APIs, AmplaPay developers can quickly integrate their frictionless, secure, and transparent payments system, cutting costs and increasing payment processing speed.
AmplaPay can interact with your EHR data to connect claims data with invoices and payments, so staff members no longer have to waste time reconciling payments with original claims. AmplaPay can also provide finance teams with payment tracking information and history, enabling greater control over finance management.
Modernized healthcare payments are just one example of the benefits of health information technology interoperability, but are certainly one of the easiest—and most important—to implement.
Interested in taking advantage of interoperability with your healthcare payments system? Learn more about our new pilot program. Finally, your healthcare organization can experience frictionless healthcare payments.