Open Everything
min of reading
December 23, 2021

From interoperability to Open Health: how open ecosystem transformations can revolutionise the Healthcare industry.

Joana França
Market Intelligence Analyst
Atualmente trabalha como Analista de Inteligência de Mercado na Sensedia.
More about the author

The so-called "Open movement" is one of the most discussed issues in Brazil today for promoting significant changes by covering various sectors of society with its open data ecosystems and for being able, among other areas, to revolutionise the Healthcare industry. 

The famous phrase "data is the new oil" could not be more accurate right now. Data is the "raw material" of Open Finance (umbrella covering Open Banking, Open Insurance and Open Investment) and the other "Opens" that are to come, because it will be through them that we will have the customer at the centre of predictive and consumer analysis.

It is worth pointing out: those who imagine the theme as an agenda only in large companies or limited to technology specialists are mistaken. Open Finance has come to transform the journey of financial sector customers and of course, to challenge banks, insurers and other players to think "out of the box". 

And how can this pattern of data sharing and development of new products and services reach the healthcare industry? This is the question that leads us to think about "Open Health" and that will guide us in the next lines of this article. 

What is interoperability and how it can revolutionise the healthcare industry

Before we think about Open Health, it is important to understand what "Interoperability" is, a term often used by technology professionals who work in Healthcare companies. Interoperability is not a new term, directly its concept is: "the exchange of data between different information systems and the effective use of this data by professionals". (MISS) 

The health sector in Brazil is one of the most traditional and has several information systems in addition to a gigantic number of data, therefore integration pains are common and to a great extent hinder the evolution of an open ecosystem. This is the reason to first understand the concept and importance of interoperability before then thinking about Open Health, as the former will be the basis for the latter. 

"Tidying up the house" is one of the most important actions and should be taken as soon as possible if there is a claim to participation in an open ecosystem of data sharing and development of new business models. 

And what is “tidying up the house” all about? Generally speaking, solving internal integration problems and having interoperable data in a fluid way that allows time gain, low margin of error in decision making and predictability.  This scenario can become possible through the use of APIs and microservices

Based on interoperable data and systems, it is possible to take the first steps towards Open Health, a movement that, like the financial sector, aims to put the patient at the centre of business visions, allowing them to be the holder and responsible for their data, having the decision on whether or not to share their health information with different institutions. 

The path of Open Health and the advances of this innovation

Open Health is already a reality in some countries around the world. In the United Kingdom, for example, there is "NHS Digital", a system that compiles patient records in a "national database", called "The Spine", which in turn generates the "Summary Care Records (SCR)" equivalent to the Electronic Patient Record developed by some Healthcare institutions here in Brazil. The SCR allows each user to have access to a 'summary of their health data', in addition to authorising the country's clinical units to access it as well.

Through an open ecosystem of health data sharing, some important advances are observed:

  • direct and positive impact on clinical decisions;
  • generation of a wide variability of products and services with different cost models;
  • care that will be designed with a high degree of personalisation for each patient. 

And as you might imagine, these interactions and data sharing require a lot of security, agility, and scalability from the systems that are interconnected. For this, having an API platform with well-defined digital strategies is essential for this journey.

The role of APIs in Open model

Sensitive data sharing requires precautions and care to ensure security against cyber attacks and potential data leaks. In Open Finance, this scenario is only possible through the use of APIs and solutions that allow the exchange of information following the governance parameters established by the Central Bank, in addition to providing the scalability of new business models within an open ecosystem. 

This API governance model should be replicated for the Healthcare scenario, through regulatory bodies such as the National Agency for Supplementary Health (ANS) and the Ministry of Health. 

One of the main transformations provided by the Open Innovation movements are directly reflected in the customer's journey (in the health of the patient). Consumer habits are changing in line with digital transformations, that is, it is common that the user of the bank's app wants to have the same experience in the app of their health operator, and it is up to the latter to be in line with the expectations of its customers. 

It is also worth noting the inevitable entry of new players into the Open Health ecosystem, so being one step ahead of digital transformation has become an indispensable action for traditional players to survive amid previously non-existent competition. 

The arrival of Open Health has not yet been scheduled in Brazil, but it is already possible to observe its first steps. Being prepared for what is to come in addition to avoiding future "headaches", will also be differential in terms of competitiveness at the start. And your company, have you started “organising the house”?

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