By Nicholas Chepesiuk, for Canadian Healthcare Technology Magazine, Vol. 26. No. 5, June/July 2021
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare clinics and organizations were forced to rapidly implement technology platforms as a short-term solution to continue caring for patients. While the solutions succeeded in connecting patients to clinicians, most of the systems were unable to link to the various vaulted CRMs, electronic record systems and repositories housing patient data. For this reason, they were unable to give a full picture of a patient’s medical history and conditions.
The consequences of applying this quick fix continue to be felt across healthcare organizations, where providers work in silos and patient data is confined to their electronic medical record systems.
So, how can healthcare organizations increase interoperability, so they work in conjunction with other systems without restrictions, and allow providers to refocus on their mission of providing care?
A recent study by Deloitte on the use of virtual care in Canada confirms that Canadian healthcare’s historical approach to technology has been siloed, divisive, and exclusive. However, healthcare organizations are discovering new ways of creating interoperability between their quick fix technology stack and infrastructure.
A proven and effective way to liberate patient data and to break down the technology barriers in healthcare is by leveraging APIs. An API is an Application Programming Interface that enables disparate technology and software to “talk to each other”. Simply put, an API connects software across an organization so that data is shared between them. APIs help reduce operational inefficiencies across healthcare organizations, especially as telemedicine operations become increasingly complex with more technology platforms and systems available.
With an open API, like the one offered by OnCall Health, data seamlessly flows from one system to another to reduce administrative redundancies. In this way, providers can be more proactive in their treatment and improve continuity of care across their organization.
TeleCBT, powered by OnCall Health, launched their virtual care program in 2017 with 10 providers using OnCall to manage patients and their operations.
Over the past year, TeleCBT chose to integrate OnCall with their EMR using OnCall’s API. This enhancement enabled more than 50 additional providers to access the OnCall platform, thus “reducing redundancy and maximizing provider efficiency across TeleCBT,” says Christine Uchida, TeleCBT’s clinical director.
For example, TeleCBT schedules appointments in OnCall, with this information passing automatically to their EMR along with patient contact notes, files and forms, and more. With this integration, TeleCBT expanded their care capabilities to save time and money, so providers spend more time caring for their patients and less time on administrative tasks, adds Uchida.
Like TeleCBT, TelASK uses OnCall to virtually care for patients with chronic health conditions, like smoking cessation, cardiology checks, and more. Providers use OnCall to schedule appointments, connect with patients via video conference and instant messaging, and can share forms and files for ongoing care.
By using an API to connect their systems, TelASK removes the silos surrounding patient data and opens opportunities for better care. Peter Fallis, TelASK’s president, notes that, “The case for interoperability is mammoth, and the ability for providers and organizations large and small to share information from one system to another is a requirement for the future of healthcare.” TelASK’s long-term operations strategy– to enhance patient services with technology – is made possible with OnCall’s API.
Prior to implementation, both TeleCBT and TelASK’s leadership took steps to better understand the state of their existing infrastructure in order to make better decisions on the interoperability of their future systems. As both of these organizations have done, healthcare providers can audit their current tech stack to identify existing silos that prevent interoperability. OnCall encourages leaders to challenge the purpose of their technology, examining ways in which end-to-end systems may create better care experiences for providers and patients.
With an all-in-one system that offers an open API, healthcare organizations can manage patient care and operations within a single, secure platform that also integrates easily with EMRs, Customer Relationship Management systems, and other systems. By reimagining healthcare delivery and choosing technology that integrates easily, healthcare organizations and their providers can revolutionize how they provide care with a connected system powering their patient care and operations.
Nicholas Chepesiuk is the founder and CEO of OnCall Health, a technology company that provides best-in-class software and services that enable hundreds of healthcare practice owners, brands, and enterprises to launch and grow their own virtual healthcare programs. Under his leadership, OnCall Health is growing rapidly and today hosts over 1 million virtual health appointments annually through its virtual care platform.