Historically, data sharing across the healthcare continuum has been hindered by a host of challenges. These diverse issues range from data security concerns, technical standard issues, required infrastructure costs, and misaligned incentives surrounding participation.
Incremental progress has been made over the past decade through wide investment into electronic health record (EHR) systems. Unfortunately, this progress has been uneven. On the inpatient and outpatient side, core focus areas of EHR deployment have been in areas other than frictionless data exchange. Post-acute care has been even more challenged, having been largely excluded from the funds and technologies sparked by the HITECH Act. While capabilities continue to grow, there is much left to do in order to realize the benefits of closer collaboration, improved communication and optimized transitions promised by the ubiquitous exchange of data.
With emerging value-based payment models bringing renewed momentum and serving as a financial catalyst, care providers across the continuum are again pursuing rapid improvements in real-time data exchange. Under these new models, hospitals now bear direct risk for total episodic costs. They are explicitly placed in the driver’s seat, and despite having limited control over downstream services and often only marginal visibility into their patients’ journeys, they must navigate the road ahead.
To succeed in this new reality, hospitals and health systems are increasing taking a more aggressive stance in deploying the real-time data infrastructure essential to managing the clinical and financial outcomes of patients under their umbrella. Atop the technical requirements of such systems, obtaining buy-in necessitates a robust legal framework protecting both patient privacy and economic interests of network participants. Nevertheless, the promise of bridging care silos to manage care, report on key clinical and outcome measures, and proactively mitigate risk across the entire care continuum is essential for those health systems looking to thrive in a value-based world.