Your top questions about telehealth integrations, answered
Interoperability in healthcare is crucial for continuity of care, to ensure providers have all the patient data they need at their fingertips to effectively and accurately provide care. However, interoperability and telehealth integrations are only just starting to become a priority for many behavioral health companies.
Although behavioral health companies implemented technology and processes at the height of the pandemic to continue caring for clients, the processes they were forced to use–and continue to rely on– are disconnected, manual, and burdensome for providers, administrators, and patients alike. Providers and administrators continue to rely on disparate point products like Zoom, their EHR, and email to deliver comprehensive treatment that is greatly needed by patients. The consequences of using disparate systems are felt across providers and patients, with a lack of connected information and effective care, provider burnout, and more.
To address this challenge while meeting the needs of patients, behavioral health companies can look to APIs and integrations to connect systems and access data without restrictions; eliminate manual and repetitive data entry; and, maximize efficiency across every workflow so providers and administrators can refocus on managing superior telehealth operations. But how do they do this? And with what tools? Here are answers to your top questions about interoperability in healthcare and why they matter in the first place.
Why integrate at all?
The three main goals of interoperability are:
1. Connect your systems to easily manage and retrieve patient data
An Application Programming Interface, or API, helps reduce operational inefficiencies across healthcare companies, especially as virtual treatment operations become more complex with more platforms and systems available. APIs enable technology and software to “talk to each other”. An API connects software across a company so data is shared between them. With free flowing data, providers and administrators are able to manage patients and their care in a more efficient way with the information they need at their fingertips, helping them treat more patients holistically and effectively.
2. Automate multiple workflows and tasks while reducing the need for repetitive manual work
Interestingly, healthcare labor costs are set to exponentially increase in 2022, even more than the average $24 billion dollars healthcare systems are already paying today. But how can leveraging a comprehensive telehealth solution increase efficiency for staff? Firstly, with an integrated tech stack, companies have the opportunity to automate complete workflows for their providers and administrators. This includes admissions, onboarding, content, and insurance billing to name a few. Switching to a digital-first and automated experience reduces the time staff spend on manual tasks like data entry into multiple disconnected systems or spreadsheets.
3. Standardize data collection and eliminate human error through digital forms and files, admissions, and more.
Patient care is compromised when providers and administrators don’t have access to correct patient information and data. In fact, medical error is the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. With this in mind, it’s paramount for behavioral health companies to utilize telehealth solutions that support them not only in patient care, but in managing their operations efficiently.
“Manual data entry forces healthcare companies to spend valuable time and resources on completing simple tasks and rectifying mistakes.” The cost? Compromised patient safety and care quality. To solve these challenges, behavioral health companies should look to leverage a comprehensive telehealth solution that integrates with their existing EHR to reduce operational redundancies and inefficiencies. With an API integration, behavioral health companies can reduce the administrative burden placed on staff by standardizing processes and synchronizing data entry across their tech stack.
Why does it matter?
APIs help reduce operational inefficiencies across healthcare companies, especially as virtual treatment operations become more complex with more platforms and systems available. With free flowing data, providers and administrators are able to manage patients and their care in a more efficient way with the information they need at their fingertips, helping them to treat patients holistically and effectively. Choosing a comprehensive telehealth solution means transforming your company and virtual treatment programs into an efficient, collaborative, and data-rich option for patients, providers, and business for the long-term. Companies who continue to equip providers and administrators with disconnected platforms will only continue experiencing discontinuity, a lack of connection to their patients, and more burnout as a result of disorganization. Because of this, companies should look to invest in solutions that maximize efficiency and engage patients in new ways to improve healthcare outcomes and scale their operations for better business in the future.
What you can do to make a difference in your company
One way to increase interoperability between systems and technology is by leveraging APIs. An API is an Application Programming Interface that enables disconnected technology and software to “talk to each other”. An API connects software across a company so data is shared between them.
Here’s an example of how an API integration between an EHR and telehealth platform
Healthcare companies that employ an array of technology to capture patient information and healthcare data may leverage an open API. Here’s a real example of how it works:
An administrator gathers a patient’s health insurance information and enters into the patient’s electronic medical record (EHR).
The same administrator may use a different platform to review session notes and follow up with a patient to schedule another appointment.
Usually, the administrator would have to find the information in the patient’s EHR and enter the same information in the patient’s record in the company’s telehealth solution.
If the administrator schedules a new appointment for the patients, they have to enter the appointment information in the EHR and telehealth solution separately.
At this point, the administrator has spent double the time completing the same administrative task of finding and entering patients information. This administrator completes these tasks for about 50 patients per day, meaning they are manually entering patient data 50 times more than required.
However, the company decided to leverage an API to improve this process. As a result, the administrator enters insurance and appointment information only once into the telehealth platform, which then automatically feeds this data into the company’s EHR. If they enter the data into the EHR, it will be automatically shared with the telehealth platform.
If behavioral health companies are going to care for 50 to 175 times the number of patients they treated prior to the pandemic, they need to arm themselves with tools that not only help them provide the best virtual treatment and patient experience, but maximize staff efficiency overall. Interoperability also helps standardize processes across a company, while greatly reducing errors associated with manual work. When your company equips staff with a comprehensive telehealth solution to reduce administrative burdens, they can get back to providing quality virtual treatment.