How will data sharing and interoperability evolve after COVID-19?
Despite relaxed federal regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic, data sharing remains an obstacle between clinical and nonclinical organizations. Siloed technology and a lack of interoperability are largely to blame. In a post-COVID-19 world, finding solutions to overcome this challenge is imperative.
For payors, understanding social needs will be crucial to make strides toward value-based community care. For community-based organizations (CBOs), understanding the full spectrum of a clients' needs will be critical for collective impact.
In this blog post, we'll discuss why data sharing and interoperability are necessary for successful clinical and nonclinical partnerships and how the impact of COVID-19 will only strengthen the need to overcome data sharing obstacles.
Data sharing eases administrative burden, saves time
With the number of hospital beds decreasing, care delivery providers are struggling to handle the outpouring of COVID-19 patients. And as we've discussed before, the record numbers of unemployment has put a strain on CBOs providing essential resources, including food and housing.
"The pandemic is shining a light on the infrastructure challenges for the social services sector across the country," Manik Bhat, Healthify's Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, said on the recent webinar.
Frontline workers in the healthcare and social services sectors are rising to the occasion and doing what they can to help their communities. But as the needs for clinical and social services increase, so does the need to share information between partnering organizations.
Emergency rooms, food banks, urgent care centers, skilled nursing facilities, and more are all wrestling with timely access to data. Being able to patient information quickly allows frontline workers to make informed decisions faster.
By enabling data sharing between clinical and nonclinical partners, frontline workers don't have to take time to hunt down information and can get to the task at hand — caring for their communities.
Interoperability enables whole-person care
If there is any silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, it's that it has highlighted how interoperability and information sharing are desperately needed. We can already see the two-way relationship between the social determinants of health and COVID-19.
In light of this, healthcare organizations are recognizing that new data streams and on-demand patient queries are needed to better care for patients. Take, for example, a person's travel history. Travel history data can provide a physician with vital context during a pandemic if and when a patient goes to the emergency department.
On the other hand, CBOs can benefit from having more information about the individuals and families receiving their services. For example, if a food bank knows that an individual has diabetes, they can tailor meals to include foods low in carbohydrates or fat. New data streams paint a more robust picture of health, and this can't be achieved without the ability to share data and patient data among clinical and nonclinical partnerships.
Innovations in technology and data sharing
COVID-19 threw a wrench into almost every business plan for 2020. Healthcare organizations were no exception, but what the novel coronavirus proved is that payors and providers have to invest in the latest technology to stay competitive.
Big tech companies such as Alphabet and Amazon took advantage of their reach and technology know-how to further reach into healthcare's mind and market share. Google Cloud partnered with hospital operator HCA to create a national patient registry. Amazon gave hospitals access to its COVID-19 data lake.
While these might be "free plays," they signal that data sharing is no longer a nice-to-have; it's an operational necessity to stay competitive and relevant in the healthcare space.
The movement to value-based community care
Understanding social needs will be critical to moving toward value-based community care.
The incentives for payors are clear — and federal policies are increasingly recognizing the need to view a patient's health and social data at the same time. SDoH screening and workflows have the opportunity to usher in a golden age of care delivery and push care upstream. But that can't be done without clearing the current hurdles of data sharing.
Watch our latest webinar to learn how COVID-19 is re-shaping the delivery of services and how we think value-based community care will evolve.