In the recent past, healthcare providers have encountered technical challenges with EHR data extraction. These challenges became more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic, as physicians struggled with their inability to send and receive patient data.
For effective patient care, providers need to break the data silos and ensure that care gaps are resolved through one source of accurate patient information.
A 2020 study showed that over 40 percent of healthcare providers have problems sending patient data to federal, state, and local public health agencies. This situation has a serious impact on how COVID-19 gets reported or treated.
The importance of effective data extraction goes beyond reporting and treating a pandemic. It impacts clinicians’ productivity, the quality of care, the exchange of information between providers, and the ability to make effective clinical support decisions.
Use of Application Programming Interfaces
To address the challenges associated with health data extraction, providers can employ revolutionary digital tools like application programming interfaces (API). These tools are already being used to aggregate information in personal finance and travel services.
If standardized APIs are adopted in healthcare, patients can easily compile data from different providers. Clinicians will also access a comprehensive patient medical history and exchange such data with other providers.
Let’s take a brief look at three benefits of APIs for effective data extraction.
1. Improving Patient’s Access to Data
If patients can access their health records through APIs on their mobile devices, they can monitor their health outside the hospital. Patients can use the data received via APIs to provide data on population health apps and promote efficient disease management in the community. With the data obtained from their provider’s EHR, patients can track and manage their health throughout their lifetime.
2. Clinical Decision Support
APIs enable clinicians to make more effective use of data extracted from EHRs for decision-making. Analytics tools may be integrated into the EHR to provide decision support.
For instance, decision support tools may examine the radiology pictures received for a particular patient. Then provide a detailed report of the skin features and give a summary of the state of health of the patient’s skin.
3. Efficient Information Exchange
A family physician will often need to exchange data with a specialist about a patient under joint care. Conventionally, this required exchanging medical history notes and patient charts that could run into hundreds of pages.
Unfortunately, this makes it very difficult to search for and find relevant information. This scenario can easily cause physician burnout and delays in the provision of high-quality care.
Using APIs to link up the EHRs of the primary care physician and specialist will make the flow of information seamless and timely. As a result, there will be no need to keep exchanging long documents. Also, improving communication through standard APIs can:
- Improve coordination of care
- Reduce redundant test orders
- Reduce the cost of healthcare
- Reduce the need for face-to-face visits
Implementing APIs using open standards such as HL7 FHIR can facilitate exchanging information from one provider to another regardless of the type of EHR and the technology used to develop it.
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