In today’s healthcare landscape, data migration plays a vital role in enabling seamless communication and data sharing between disparate healthcare systems. This is particularly relevant when considered alongside healthcare integration, as often the system being migrated into is part of an integrated system with other applications. This means that there is typically an integration component that needs to be considered and implemented alongside the data migration, with both components having the same go-live date. In this blog, Data Sauce in conjunction with JTX IT Consultancy dive into how data migration and healthcare integration collide, some of the challenges to be aware of, and the benefits of getting it right.
What is Healthcare Integration?
Healthify describes integrated care as “an organising principle for care delivery that aims to improve patient care and experience through improved coordination.” Sometimes referred to as ‘Interoperability’, it acts as the heart of the hospital seamlessly integrating the master source of patient health information “the patient administration system PAS” with downstream clerical and clinical business applications.
Healthcare integration requires mass coordination across planning, financing and the provision of services to patients – meaning there is a lot of data that needs to be handled accurately. The sensitive nature of this data and the complexities around patient confidentiality provide significant challenges. Furthermore, the required message structure of Health Level 7 (HL7) and other similar standards adds complexity to the integration process, as it requires careful mapping and transformation of data to ensure compatibility and seamless communication between different systems. Despite these challenges, Healthcare Integration must be done, with numerous benefits delivered to both patients and Healthcare organisations.
Benefits of Health Integration
While the primary benefit of Healthcare Integration is continuity of patient care, there are also multiple business efficiencies that can be gained. These include:
- Seamless data sharing and communication being enabled through the utilisation of Fast Health Interoperable Resources (FHIR). This promotes a significant improvement to interoperability between disparate healthcare systems.
- The ability for health organisations to leverage universal standards HL7 for exchanging, integrating, sharing, and retrieving of patient health information reducing discrepancies and misrepresentation of data.
- Improvement of data accuracy across the organisation by centralising record updates, allowing for seamless distribution of patient health information, reducing manual handling of data and possible human error.
- Enhanced communication and collaboration across diverse healthcare specialities, ensuring that everyone is working with the most up to date version of the patient record.
- Empowerment of clinical teams to deliver care more efficiently because smooth data sharing allows for faster clinical decision-making. It can help minimise healthcare expenses by reducing redundant tests and procedures. This improves both the patient treatment and the overall patient experience.
- Innovation within Healthcare organisations equips technology teams to adapt future advancements in care delivery. During the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations had to rapidly transition the delivery of care from in-person appointments to utilising Telehealth and COVID tracking. This quick adaption was made possible due to the flexibility provided by their Interoperability components.
While integration can bring numerous benefits, it requires careful planning, coordination, and the overcoming of various obstacles to ensure 100% accuracy.
Considerations for a Data Migration into an integrated Healthcare system
Data Mapping and Transformation: One of the primary challenges is mapping and transforming data from the legacy system to align with the data structure and standards of the integrated health system. In a partially integrated system, different applications may have their own data models and formats, making it difficult to ensure seamless data transfer. It is important to invest time and effort in mapping and transforming data accurately to ensure data integrity and compatibility across the integrated system.
Data Quality and Consistency: Migrating data from multiple sources into a partially integrated health system poses challenges in maintaining data quality and consistency. Inconsistent or incomplete data can impact patient care and decision-making. Data cleansing and validation processes become critical to identify and rectify any discrepancies, duplications, or errors during the migration process.
System Compatibility and Interoperability: The integration generally involves bringing together different applications and platforms that may have varying levels of interoperability. Therefore, an important step is checking if the systems are compatible to ensure smooth data flow between them. This may require customisation or development of interfaces and middleware to bridge the gaps between different applications.
Data Security and Privacy: Data migration brings inherent risks to data security and privacy, therefore the protection of sensitive patient information is vital during the migration process. This involves implementing robust security measures, such as encryption, access controls, and data anonymisation, to safeguard patient data throughout the migration journey. Compliance with data protection regulations and standards such as Health Level 7 (HL7) are necessary to protect patient information and to ensure the organisation adheres to relevant regulatory and legal requirements.
Change Management and User Adoption: Implementing a data migration into a partially integrated Healthcare system involves significant changes for end-users, including Healthcare professionals and administrative staff. Change management strategies and effective user adoption plans are necessary to ensure smooth transitions and minimise disruptions to daily operations. Training and support should be provided to help users understand and navigate the new system, ensuring a seamless transition and promoting user acceptance.
Data migration into an integrated Healthcare system is not something you do every day, and it comes with its share of challenges. There’s a lot to consider, so engaging a specialist who has successfully completed multiple health migrations can pave the way to success.
Get in touch and we’ll help you get the ultimate results out of your Healthcare Integration – enhanced data sharing, improved workflows, and ultimately, better patient care.