Interoperability for secure messaging between healthcare providers

In the healthcare industry, interoperability means that two or more different secure messaging systems can exchange and interpret data from one another. HIMSS states that “for two systems to be interoperable, they must be able to exchange data and subsequently present that data such that it can be understood by a user.”

It is so important because it ensures that doctors, surgeons, and other medical providers have the information that they need in order to provide sufficient care. However, for it to be truly effective, all healthcare facilities need to adopt interoperability.

To date, healthcare practitioners and organisations have been restricted to sending information on one secure messaging network. This has left gaps in their ability to securely deliver or receive documents and has meant that there has been a continued reliance on manual methods of handling patient information.

The medical software industry has been working towards this milestone for a while now and we are happy to be a market leader in interoperable messaging for healthcare.

ReferralNet has introduced a modern, effective, and secure eHealth approach to handling patient information and ensuring secure messaging between healthcare providers. This health technology works across organisational boundaries and supports a system-to-system connection to share information between two or more messaging networks more securely. It provides a holistic approach to view patient information regardless of the differences in technologies and networks used by different healthcare providers like hospitals, doctors, departments, and pharmacies.

As a result of recognising each other’s network, and having different digital health networks in the loop, there is an increase in network size, reach, capability, and the system is continuously expanding.

The current state of interoperable secure messaging

The volume of digital information sharing taking place today between healthcare providers, hospitals, and doctors is immense. This is a positive sign because it removes the use of handwritten notes and manual data sharing.

Today, most healthcare professionals are using secure messaging platforms which are not compatible with one another unless they conform to a strict set of rules for identification and a limited set of message (document) structures. Providers can no longer rely on outdated technology or non-connected platforms.

Interoperability bridges the gap and enhances information sharing across organisational boundaries. With ReferralNet users are not only able to use the platform for secure sharing of essential patient records but also complete information like medical information, lab tests, clinical summaries, pharmacy records, prescriptions, etc. In addition, users of ReferralNet can now connect with other ReferralNet users and Argus users from the one platform, and securely exchange messages with more healthcare providers across Australia, as an integral part of the Australian health system.

As ReferralNet recognised this blocker to the digital flow of patient data across healthcare providers, we also implemented a much wider range of the commonly used documents covering the transfer of care, including discharge summaries, referrals, progress notes and diagnostic reports from pathology and radiology providers, using the older but much more widely-used document formats based on international standards (HL7v2.3).

The biggest advantage of this is that users can now send and receive confidential patient information securely across a larger network of healthcare providers.

Since December 2017, Global Health’s ReferralNet and Telstra Health’s Argus have witnessed an average growth of 15 per cent per month since they became interoperable with each other for secure messaging.

Benefits of interoperability and secure messaging for healthcare providers

Interoperability bridges the gap and enhances information sharing across organisational boundaries. It ensures that doctors, surgeons, and other medical providers are connected as an integral part of the Australian healthcare system, and they have the information that they need to provide sufficient care. In addition, for healthcare providers, there are the following benefits:

  • Cost-cutting and productivity
    Time wasted on manual systems and paperwork costs hospitals billions of dollars each year. The solution offered by ReferralNet can digitise these processes, improving productivity and cutting costs. It can cut down repetitive tasks and lift the bottom line. Messages are seamlessly generated, encoded, transmitted, charted, and received on a single eHealth system and network without any fuss.
  • Provision of better healthcare service
    Ideally, interoperability can form a network of shared data across Australia that can be used to provide better healthcare services. This health innovation can make possible the collection and storage of correct and reliable public health data. Interoperable healthcare technology has the potential to introduce revolutionary improvements to the healthcare sector.
  • Lower risk of errors
    Interoperability involves digitisation and the use of applications and other eHealth technologies. This helps reduce mistakes and boosts efficiency. It eliminates manual data collection that otherwise increases the chances of errors.
Benefits of interoperability and secure messaging for patients

Interoperability allows healthcare providers to provide patients with better care and improve their healthcare journey. It gives providers a holistic view of the patient past digital medical record and medical history. The patient feels more confident in their healthcare provider, and the service they are receiving.

  • Quality healthcare
    Complete visibility and access to patient information for both healthcare organisations and the patient is the main advantage of interoperability. Most people get healthcare from multiple facilities, hospitals, and doctors. Interoperability unifies these separate interactions, ensuring quality and holistic healthcare service for the patient with the provider to provider communication.
  • Protection of patient privacy
    The main goal of interoperability is to establish a connection mechanism for secure messaging between healthcare providers. Don’t compromise the privacy of your clients, or their data. A Breach of patient privacy is more likely where the data is collected and stored manually. Interoperability improves patient privacy by having the clinical staff collect the data through a secure device, on a secure network, and digitally storing it on a secure server or cloud storage.
  • Better experience
    Interoperability enhances the patient experience by shifting the focus on patient care instead of administrative tasks. Instead of spending time collecting and process data manually, the staff will spend more time understanding the needs of the patient.
Who does it affect?

Interoperability is a health innovation that can affect healthcare organisations, patients, doctors, pharmacies, medical staff, etc. It improves the quality of medical service at hospitals, clinics, and other such arrangements, in addition to enhancing patient care and coordination within an organisation. As a result, the patient gets individual attention and care, which is critical for client retention.

Better interoperability decreases time spent on data collection, data sharing, understanding of the patient’s medical history, requesting and preparing lab reports, prescribing medicines, and writing referrals. It cuts down the time spent on administrative tasks and increases the time doctors spend with the patients.

The standards for interoperability

Interoperability does not occur in a vacuum. Different standards are used to implement a secure messaging system among healthcare providers. Health data standards are categorised into four groups: content, transport, terminology, and privacy and security. Each of these standards is crucial for the implementation and operation of a dynamic and reliable interoperability system.

What does it mean for you and your business – the benefits

Manual methods of healthcare data collection and processing can take hours. It is costly for the organisation and overwhelming, repetitive, and cumbersome for the staff. Furthermore, it involves a higher risk of errors and breaches of patient privacy. Interoperability can improve your organisation’s overall productivity by:

  • Cutting cost
  • Decreasing errors and improving efficiency
  • Ensuring accurate reporting
  • Guaranteeing complete patient record
  • Providing better and consistent access to the patient record
  • Streamlining communication
  • Boosting coordination
  • Ensuring patient safety and privacy
  • Creating better experiences for the patient
  • Improving reputation
  • Increasing profit
Why is interoperability needed?

When interoperability becomes part of your organisation, patient healthcare will ultimately improve. Doctors and medical staff will have quick access to reliable information at any given time. No longer will they need to spend time collecting data that should already be available, therefore the focus will be entirely on patient care. Our aim is to keep the patient as the central part of your network.

Get started

ReferralNet is a leader in the medical interoperability and secure messaging sector. We have already improved the productivity of many healthcare organisations with our innovations. Put yourself at the centre of the digital health network. If you want to avail the benefits of healthcare interoperability, you can contact our team. We will undertake an interoperability readiness check of your organisation and discuss how we can help you.

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