Pandemic Reprioritizes the Need for Interoperability in Healthcare

To maximize the value of healthcare data, solution providers must overcome traditional interoperability challenges. The new Google Cloud Healthcare API enables industry innovators to share, ingest and analyze information in a secure and scalable way.

Multiple data formats, a range of disparate sources and systems—the healthcare interoperability landscape is complex. The stakeholders are equally diverse, each with their own concerns and capabilities. Everyone from large hospitals to individual physicians’ offices to digital health companies, medical device companies and solution providers have a need to process and analyze health and wellness data. And across the entire spectrum, there’s broad agreement on the value of an ecosystem where health and wellness data can be more effectively leveraged for extracting data insights, building applications, and securely sharing with partner organizations and patients alike.

Traditional, on-premises technologies weren't designed for this kind of broad data exchange and enterprises often found it difficult to innovate their offerings using legacy tools. However, COVID-19 accelerated the need for better interoperability as patients and providers turned to telehealth to augment in-office care. Even when regions reopen and face-to-face medical services become more easily accessible, the reliance on telehealth is likely to continue. Almost 90% of Canadians say the pandemic showed them that virtual care tools can be important alternatives to in-person visits.

Convenience is one driver. Consumers are accustomed to leveraging technology to facilitate much of their lives, and they increasingly seek out tools that help them enable quick and user-friendly healthcare interactions, too. The consumerization of technology also created an environment where people expect to receive more health information, from lab results to specialist consultations, through electronic means. Health concerns stemming from the pandemic may also persist, prompting patients to prefer virtual care options over in-person visits well into the future.

Almost 90% of Canadians say the pandemic showed them that virtual care tools can be important alternatives to in-person visits. @onixnetworking

Solving Long-standing Challenges to Improve Interoperability

The swift and sizable shift to virtual care in 2020 highlighted many of the obstacles solution providers have traditionally faced when it comes to making good use of health data. Information generated within standalone platforms has proven difficult to move beyond the boundaries of the original system, organization and even province in some cases. Sharing information between entities—or even among different stakeholders within the same entity—required multiple manual steps and it was sometimes beyond the abilities of the various systems. The processes were cumbersome and time consuming, and sometimes they simply didn’t happen.

But telehealth by its nature crosses regional boundaries and often involves multiple providers in different locations to deliver the best patient experience. This more modern vision of healthcare requires an approach to data that isn’t hindered by data portability obstacles. Fortunately, innovative e-health solutions and the recently released Google Cloud Healthcare API platform enable broader interoperability across traditional system and organizational perimeters, driving better patient outcomes and delivering more meaningful analytics to solve health problems at the national level.

Security and Privacy Protection for Today’s Threat Landscape

Concerns about cybersecurity and data privacy have been a primary issue since the early days of data interoperability discussions. Preventing exposure of patient information, whether through targeted external attacks, unauthorized insider access or unintentional disclosures, is critical. Google brings its background in data security and privacy to its new solution, which is fully industry compliant—including PIPEDA and PHIPA—and is designed to safeguard healthcare data while enabling robust interoperability. The platform maintains stringent data accuracy and includes rigorous de-identification capabilities. In addition, by leveraging Google cloud data centers located within Canada, Cloud Healthcare API maintains data locality and meets data residency requirements.

Enabling Productivity and Reducing Costs

One key to true usability is Cloud Healthcare API’s ability to support multiple popular healthcare standards, including DICOM, HL7 FHIR and HL7 v2. Whether you're working with medical images or EHR data, the solution can ingest these formats and make them usable in the cloud. Rather than putting time into data restructuring and manual transitions, developers, engineers and data scientists can focus on applying Google's leading cloud tools to build applications and extract insights using patient and other data. Developing solutions on Google Cloud also allows organizations to scale and elevate their offerings more quickly than could be accomplished through legacy tools.

Google Cloud’s analytic tools include BigQuery, along with machine learning tools such as Looker and others. Using an optimal mix of capabilities, the platform delivers rapid results and facilitates faster ML model training and deployment. Those outputs can then be stored and blended into clinical workflows. Whether your use case focuses on population health or enhancing the patient experience to nurture deep provider-patient relationships, Cloud Healthcare API provides an enterprise-grade environment for your development efforts.

The Right Partner to Support Your Healthcare Data Strategy

Onix is excited to be an early partner in the adoption of Google Cloud Healthcare API. We developed specialized expertise through our participation in the solution’s benchmarking process, and our team has built a deep understanding of this advanced technology’s capabilities in solving interoperability problems and accelerating innovation. The experts at Onix are ready to leverage experience that no other partner has in helping you benefit from this powerful and secure new platform. From initial strategy and planning to execution, optimization and ongoing support, Onix is there to support our customers’ cloud journeys every step of the way. We can be reached at hls@onixnet.com.

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Meet the Author

Matt Bolden, Sr. Solutions Marketing Manager

Matt Bolden, Sr. Solutions Marketing Manager

Matt is passionate about empowering health and life science organizations to focus on their important work with cloud technology solutions and services. As a marketer, he especially enjoys telling the success stories of researchers and providers using the cloud to make real impacts on health outcomes. On weekends, you can often find Matt working on community ventures with neighbors or making too much pasta.

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