Transforming Healthcare with Open Ecosystems: From Interoperability to Open Health

Eduardo Arantes
November 10, 2023
min reading time

Transforming Healthcare with Open Ecosystems: From Interoperability to Open Health

People are talking a lot about something called the "Open API movement." It's a big deal because it is bringing changes to many parts of society, especially in healthcare. The "Open API movement" uses open data, and it's making a significant impact, including in 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 (an umbrella covering Open Banking, Open Insurance, and Open Investment) and the other "Opens" that are to come. It is through these Open APIs that we will have the customer at the center of predictive and consumer analysis. Maintaining data privacy in financial services is a crucial consideration in this evolving landscape.

It's important to note that Open Finance is not just for big companies or tech experts. It's changing how everyone experiences the financial sector and is pushing banks, insurers, and others to think creatively.

How can sharing data and creating new products also affect healthcare? This question leads us to consider "Open Health," and we'll explore this further in the next part of the article.

Understanding Interoperability's Impact on Healthcare

Interoperability in healthcare

Before diving deep into Open Health, it is essential to comprehend the concept of "Interoperability," a term frequently employed by technology professionals within the healthcare sector. Interoperability, while not a novel term, can be defined as "the exchange of data between different information systems and the proficient utilization of this data by professionals." (MISS)

The healthcare sector, marked by its traditional nature, encompasses numerous information systems and a vast amount of data. Consequently, challenges in legacy system integration are widespread and significantly impede the advancement of innovative digital experiences in healthcare. 

Therefore, it is imperative to fully grasp the concept and significance of interoperability as a foundational step before diving into the considerations of Open Health. Interoperability serves as the crucial groundwork upon which the exploration of Open Health relies. 

Organizing internal processes, referred to as "tidying up the house," stands as a pivotal step that should be promptly addressed for those aspiring to participate in an Open API strategy involving data sharing and the formulation of innovative business models. 

The concept of "tidying up the house" involves resolving internal integration challenges and ensuring the smooth interoperability of data. This approach yields advantages such as time efficiency, a reduced margin of error in decision-making, and enhanced predictability. Achieving this scenario is facilitated through the implementation of a well thought-out API strategy.

Building upon interoperable data and systems lays the foundation for initiating the Open Health initiative through the implementation of an Open API. Similar to the approach seen in the financial sector, the primary objective is to centralize the patient in business objectives. This empowers individuals to be the custodians of their data, granting them the authority to decide whether or not to share their health information with various institutions.

Exploring the Progress in Open Health Innovation

Open Health has become a reality in various countries globally. For instance, in the United Kingdom, there exists NHS Digital, a system that consolidates patient records into a national database known as "The Spine." 

This database produces Summary Care Records (SCR), akin to the Electronic Patient Record found in certain healthcare institutions. The SCR grants each user access to a 'summary of their health data' and permits clinical units across the country to access this information.

Through an Open API for health data sharing, some essential advantages are observed:

  • direct and positive impact on clinical decisions
  • generation of a wide variability of products and services with different cost models
  • care designed with a high degree of personalization for each patient

These digital experiences and data sharing demand high security, speed, and scalability from the interconnected systems. Therefore, possessing an API integration platform with clear digital strategies is crucial for this process.

The Role of APIs in Open Model

Sharing sensitive data demands precautions to ensure security against cyber attacks and potential data leaks. In Open Finance, this situation is achievable through the utilization of API security solutions and APIs that enable information exchange while maintaining regulatory compliance, like the FDX API, the common API standard of the finance services industry in the United States. Additionally, adaptive governance solutions facilitate the scalability of new business models within an open ecosystem.

One significant change brought about by Open Innovation movements is directly seen in the customer's experience, particularly in health. Consumer behaviors are evolving alongside digital experiences. It is anticipated that users of an Open banking platform, for example, would desire a similar experience in their healthcare provider’s app. It is the responsibility of the provider to align with the expectations of its customers.

It's important to mention the inevitable arrival of new participants in the Open Health ecosystem. Being ahead of digital trends has become a necessary step for traditional players to survive amid new competition.

The introduction of Open Health was unexpected, but its initial progress is clear. Preparing for what's ahead will not only help you avoid future challenges but also distinguish you on the journey towards Open Innovation. Has your company started on its Open API Strategy?

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