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Healthcare Interoperability Software: What to Look for in a Tech Partner

When addressing innovations such as healthcare interoperability software, success depends on establishing the most effective bridges you can build as a health IT provider.

If you are looking for a tech partner to assist you with this process, you want to ensure that your software development team will be able to comprehend the workings of both sides of these bridges and the way the foundation should be developed so that its stakeholders can benefit in the long-term.

Following the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016 in the US and the adoption of the Recommendation for a European Electronic Health Record exchange format by the European Commission, greater focus is being placed on interoperability and patient accessibility. However, innovation like interoperability isn’t without challenges. The reality is that most health IT providers struggle to manage integrations due to the complexity of health tech infrastructure. In addition, legal regulations and requirements complicate the integration process.

Further, healthcare interoperability software partnerships are hampered by poor documentation, outdated technology, tricky path-to-live environments, overly complex and manual assurance processes, and patchy help and support throughout the software delivery lifecycle. And all this translates into two critical downsides: time-consuming and costly resources. As a result, these downsides limit choice and cost for end users, counteracting the patient-centric focus of most health tech solutions.

For interoperability in healthcare information systems to be successful, strong collaboration between experts in the market and a solid commitment to agile innovation is essential. In this article, we will focus on several aspects that must be considered before choosing a software development partner to facilitate a smooth collaborative process.


Table of Contents



Craft Healthcare Interoperability Software with Beneficiaries in Mind

From the perspective of technological innovation in the healthcare industry, interoperability has a lot to offer for all stakeholders. It represents a fundamental change in how healthcare providers deliver treatments and the efficiency of clinical operations. Software providers focused on healthcare interoperability should ensure everyone involved in developing such solutions is aware of the value they bring to users. Most importantly, how the pieces benefit each stakeholder.

Usually, this knowledge comes from experience in developing healthcare software for specific markets. We have outlined below the main areas of emphasis for medical interoperability software teams from a benefit standpoint, which we further discussed in our article on the benefits of interoperability in healthcare.

It is clear that interoperability between healthcare information systems benefits all parties involved in the healthcare industry. When developing software with a health IT provider, an experienced software development team must recognize these aspects and ensure they are discussed from the outset. This will help the collaboration to run smoothly.

Tech Partner Understands how Healthcare Interoperability Systems Work

The health information technology (HIT) industry includes various technologies that store, analyze, and retrieve health information. As the healthcare system becomes more complex, key systems must communicate with each other. Understanding this is particularly important for software development teams working in collaboration to achieve interoperability of healthcare information systems.

Knowing how healthcare interoperable systems work is essential, starting with the source of data – the Provider Data Management system, Health Information Exchange (HIE), to the Claims Systems that guarantee the providers are being compensated for their services. It is a prerequisite to understanding how this is accomplished with Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Quality and Risk Management Systems serving as core components of healthcare interoperability systems.

Without a practical application of all four levels, foundational interoperability, structural interoperability, semantic interoperability, and organizational interoperability, health data exchange would not be feasible in a seamless manner that adds value to all stakeholders.


The Software Development Team is Well Versed in Advanced IT Integrated Solutions

Integrating advanced IT solutions with healthcare is key to delivering high-quality healthcare and improving patient outcomes. Various federal agencies are collaborating on introducing standards that ensure the seamless integration of different healthcare information technology systems. In the United States, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is responsible for such initiatives.

Adapting to these standards is not always easy, especially when trying to achieve interoperability among healthcare information systems. In such cases, a mature understanding of how agile IT solutions can be built through integration is what makes a difference and what is best reflected in the value offered to healthcare providers.

“To us, Fortech is not only a trusted software services supplier but a savvy tech partner, whose technical prowess, agility, process maturity, and engagement have positively impacted our business project indicators. The outcome of our work together is a beautiful web-based application hosted in the cloud.” – stated Alex Ørving Toftegaard Hansen, IT Specialist – Zwable.

It is also essential to evaluate how well your software development teams can design and implement your healthcare APIs to ensure flexibility for easy integration with other systems and services. And in the end, your collaboration with software engineers skilled in critical thinking will make a difference in your outcome.

The Technical Team Follows the Latest Health Technology Standards (HL7® FHIR® and HIPAA)

When implementing the legislation in the United States, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the ONC proposed new APIs based on the HL7® FHIR® standard to facilitate information exchange.

As a result of transitioning to the HL7® FHIR® standard, two-way communication with provider EHRs is now possible through an integrated approach. However, the overhaul of legacy systems to conform to the updated standard may prove challenging, especially when the nature of the healthcare industry is extremely sensitive. Therefore, IT & software teams must be well versed in the industry’s specific standards before and during such changes are implemented to ensure that they can maximize the impact of these upgrades.

By way of example, at Fortech, we implement custom healthcare software following all compliance requirements such as HIPAA. We have also established a team of skilled software developers with certifications in FHIR®.

Tech Partner Has Experience Developing Healthcare Interoperability Software

Similar to healthcare interoperability software, which made two-way communication possible for enhanced outcomes, an equal comprehension of this solution and how to achieve it will further strengthen collaboration between health IT and software teams and produce positive results. An important consideration when choosing a technology partner to develop and implement healthcare interoperability software is finding a partner with high technical skills and communication skills, and experience in the entire software lifecycle, from inception to production.

Moreover, consider proven results from those cases that have enabled healthcare organizations to improve the efficiency of their hospitals, practices, and clinical processes. The role of specialized expertise in achieving interoperability in healthcare information systems will certainly make a significant contribution to future collaborations.

The Software Company Focuses on Patient-Centric Interoperability

The importance of patient centricity is well-known in the health information technology sector. In itself, the concept of interoperable healthcare IT systems advocates a patient-centered approach to care. Understanding the implications of technological innovation from the patient’s viewpoint is fundamental to empowering patients and making the lives of physicians and healthcare professionals more convenient. This mindset is crucial to developing a healthcare ecosystem capable of fostering innovation.

Using apps within their EHRs, clinicians can access clinical decision support tools to provide better patient care through their EHRs. In parallel, these EHRs must also be developed to empower patients to take a more active role in their healthcare. As a result of all this synchronization, patient information will be widely available, which can contribute to overall improvements in the healthcare sector.

A technical partner understands technology and what it can provide for the future, is exposed to different types of healthcare IT projects, apprehends technology’s limitations and ethical rules of usage, and will offer recommendations to secure and safe use of healthcare IT systems.

For example, clinical and biomedical researchers are gaining access to more health data to advance their research. Thus, it is equally necessary that API-based solutions evolve to meet the needs of major stakeholders in healthcare and research.

Taking on HealthTech Challenges Together

Data exchange between systems can be challenging, particularly if stored in different formats. This is because not all systems have the capability to handle a variety of data formats. Things become even more challenging if we consider interoperability in healthcare information systems. Healthcare vendors have varying needs and requirements, as well as different challenges.

If the technical teams are not unified on the matter of correct integration systems and the transformation of data into a consistent format, data from a patient’s medical records can become isolated. Thus, professionals can miss critical information, potentially affecting patients’ health.

Assessing these aspects in detail and tackling them with an experienced healthcare software development provider is imperative when attempting to understand how to achieve interoperability in healthcare. When selecting a tech partner to ensure coordinated and reliable healthcare interoperability software, consider the key elements discussed throughout this article.