WellSky on breaking down ‘electronic silos’

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A new framework for interoperability from WellSky allows its provider customers to better communicate across various patient data exchanges — all electronically. Here’s what Amy Shellhart, senior vice president of product management, had to say about how WellSky I/O is helping to break down “electronic silos” of documentation, significantly advancing efforts to achieve what the company calls “true interoperability.”

HME News: As we know, there have been incentives on the acute-care side to adopt electronic documentation. What’s been happening on the post-acute care side?

Amy Shellhart: For the most part, with the move to electronic medical records, paper documentation has resulted in the creation of electronic silos of data. Technical constraints, privacy concerns, as well as a lack of incentives, have contributed to the information in those silos being unavailable to anyone outside of those silos. In acute care, with Meaningful Use, there were financial incentives to develop methods of data exchange, such as direct secure messaging. However, on the post-acute care side, there have been no financial incentives, and so the development of interoperability has been driven by market demand. Because care has traditionally been paid for in a fee-for-service or episodic-based methodology, the market drive to share data across venues of care has been limited.

HME: What’s the market demanding?

Shellhart: With more responsibility placed on providers to demonstrate value, the market is demanding a way to communicate about the patient regardless of venue of care. It’s not the venue of care that’s important; it’s the patient’s outcome that’s the common denominator. As a patient transitions from setting to setting, there needs to be a way to share information beyond the artificial walls that those silos have created, so that all providers participating in the patient’s care can support quality outcomes.

HME: What’s helping to make this more possible today?

Shellhart: The standard for sharing info used to be a point-to-point interface. I had to direct my database to talk to your database via a single pipeline. It was just us, and we had to agree on what information we would share with each other. Now there’s new technology around representational state transfer (REST)-based APIs—a way to build interfaces that allow multiple people to follow the same standards, in this case Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standards, which are very specific to health care. This allows an organization, based on their credentials, to access information on demand, bringing information out of the silos and moving them along the information highway.

HME: Where does WellSky I/O come into play?

Shellhart: WellSky I/O brings up this data through the API and, using FHIR standards, pulls them up to a higher level so they’re accessible.
HME: How does WellSky I/O then communicate with acute-care providers and their information?
Shellhart: Once there are doors on these databases (the APIs) and we have the keys to open them, with the patient’s permission, we can share information out of our network. The CommonWell Health Alliance, which WellSky is a member of, and Carequality have joined forces, representing 90% of all acute care in the U.S.

HME: How does this benefit HME providers?

Shellhart: If you’re an HME and you’re going to coordinate the right equipment, rather than faxing, you can query the network and, with the patient’s permission, find them and see their discharge instructions. We are connecting the provider to those networks directly from our application.