According to InstaMed’s Tenth Annual Report, there is high consumer demand for digitization within healthcare. Yet, a staggering 87% of providers still leverage paper and manual processes for collecting data about patients. The burden of the paper load and manual data entry in healthcare leads to numerous tedious tasks for medical staff and a high risk of errors in medical records. Given the industry’s focus on interoperability and the ‘digitization’ of healthcare, why are 87% of providers still leveraging paper?
Fortunately, the answer can be both easy to explain and easy to solve! Providers rely on paper because it just works. While FHIR-based standard messaging via APIs, Direct Secure Messaging, the Direct StandardTM, and HL7 standards are all great solutions to the paperwork problem, they all rely on the sender and the receiver to be on the same ‘standard’ and also rely on the sender knowing the ‘standard’ the receiver is using to ingest their documents. For example, if the provider that sends over the patient’s records uses Direct Secure Messaging, but the provider receiving those records doesn’t have (or doesn’t use) their Direct address, then the standard of interoperability fails.
Given the number of standards that have been created and given the number of different ways providers now have to create interoperability in healthcare, the solution shouldn’t rely on the sender or the receiver. The solution should rely on the delivery network that transports those patients.
Healthcare needs a trusted and secure document delivery network that can agnostically connect any two endpoints. Further, that delivery network must do two things to promote interoperability and reduce the reliance on paper in healthcare:
1. Allow the receiving provider to declare which standard they want to utilize for ingesting patient records. The provider should be able to tell the delivery if they want patient records received as a Direct Secure Message or a FHIR-based message, for example.
2. The secure document delivery network, in turn, then has to be able to transform documentation into different standard message types. Take, for example, the WEAVE solutions that etherFAX has introduced. Through this functionality, something as basic as a fax can be transformed into a Direct Secure Message, or a FHIR-based message, and even converted to an HL7 standardized CDA document.
Today, 87% of providers should not be leveraging paper in healthcare. The tools and technology exist to eliminate the need and burden of paper in healthcare. The standards exist to allow for true interoperability in healthcare. Where healthcare organizations, payers, and providers need to focus their future efforts in terms of truly implementing interoperability is in the secure document delivery networks that can transform patient records from one standard to another while also performing data extraction so the recipient gets what they need, when they need it, in a format that their EHRs can readily ingest and integrate.