One of the biggest problems with digital medicine standardization is the lack of interoperability. With multiple agencies, tech platforms, applications, and care providers to coordinate, the current configuration consists of an alphabet soup of organizations weighing in on everything from compliance to design and implementation.
Google Health, HP, and Phillips Set Standards for Digital Medicine
Meanwhile, companies like Yalantis.com are doing their best to create apps and platforms that seek to heal the broken flow of information and provide a comprehensive system that benefits patients and improves outcomes.
What are Digital Medicine Standards?
Digital medicine standards concern unifying the coordination and exchange of health services and information across digital platforms. Just like G4A. G4A is a digital health accelerator helping startups grow and mature their business.
This goal, while lofty and necessary, is difficult to achieve due to inaccessible information that’s hidden in isolated databases, the inability to integrate a multitude of proprietary apps, and widespread platform incompatibility.
Medical digitization shows great promise for raising the standards and access to care on a global scale. Not only can it improve the general health of individuals and entire populations, it will also support advances in diagnostics, disease prevention, and treatments.
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The areas that most concern researchers and technicians revolve around overcoming the problems of interoperability in the realms of:
* Artificial intelligence and related technologies
* Research and development
* International cooperation
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) divides health IT standards into four categories:
1. Content: This relates to the structure and organization of data, also referred to as information or data models.
2. Terminology: This seeks to create unambiguous concepts regarding structured, unified vocabulary.
3. Transportation/Data Exchange: This includes the format and methods of message exchange. It also regulates how information travels between platforms and systems.
4. Privacy/Security: This category relates to the rights of individuals and organizations regarding control over their personal information. It provides them with say over who, what, when, how, and for what purpose their data can be collected, shared, and disposed of.
Two of the organizations that are most responsible for coordinating global health IT standards are:
* The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), who created a 10-year roadmap toward interoperability in 2015.
* Standard Development Organizations (SDO), which is a member-supported organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute.
One of the most important resources for digital health standardization is the Fast Health Interoperability Resource (FHIR). It is constructed using various data models governing the standardization of digital health components such as diagnostic reports, patient care plans, and physician orders.
The Problems Inherent in the System
Collecting the data necessary to reach digital health goals and parity on both micro and macro levels is not the issue.
The problem is coming to some sort of agreement on how to standardize data sharing through an interconnected framework of platforms and infrastructure, creating secure interfaces for exchanging such information on a global level, and devising a set of international standards that are unified, accessible, and usable across the board.
The development of unified international digital medical standards will not only improve overall health for populations and individuals, but it will also allow local, regional, and international agencies to coordinate and react faster to widespread medical and health emergencies like global pandemics.
Huge developments are bringing these objectives closer to fruition now that the health IT community is prioritizing the funding and collaboration necessary to reach a truly global digital health standard.
The health IT standards to watch include a range of agencies and enterprises from around the world who are busy compiling guides and other resources.
For example, the US Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has created their own Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA) process.
How Big Tech is Leading the Way Toward Digital Medicine Standardization
Under the guidance and coordination of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), an initiative that includes 25 major tech companies is in the process of defining a set of standards in the field of medical therapeutics. These companies include Google Health, Hewlett-Packard, and Phillips
This newer subset of digital medicine is concerned with how apps are developed and integrated into care delivery and treatment. At the same time, the FDA is responding to pressure to reduce regulatory barriers and approve new treatment modes and methodologies for a range of conditions.
The collaborative efforts have already made progress with the release of standards regarding:
* The use of AI in healthcare
* Performance standards for optimal physical activity guidelines
* Performance standards for stress monitoring
This builds on the progress already made by groups like the Digital Therapeutics Alliance, which created its own Code of Ethics and set of best practices for product development and marketing.
Where Do We Go From Here? The Next Steps in Health IT Standards?
As the events of the past year demonstrated, stakeholders have a long way to go toward improving health care delivery and access. This is especially true when you factor in the increased need for information sharing with regard to telemedicine and digital medical platforms.
Recent efforts to overhaul regulatory requirements and approaches to care delivery that impedes rather than support standardization have seen great progress. However, we still have a long way to go.
In 2017, a group of stakeholders impaneled at that year’s annual HIMSS’ Global Health Conference laid out 10 decisive steps toward creating a standardized national health agenda. These recommendations were based on an assessment of past health IT-related advancements and implementations.
This list was part of a bipartisan effort to create a standard set of guiding principles to standardize digital medicine, It’s up to those in the industry to decide how far with come toward achieving these 10 recommendations:
1. Halthing health IT design by regulation.
2. Aligning “meaningful use” and MACRA/MIPS requirements for certification.
3. Recognition of the fact that data flows best when it is not hampered by government mandates.
4. Improve access to CMS claims data in an effort to support care coordination.
5. Eliminate the Enhanced Oversight Rule
6. Steer away from a heavy-handed approach to patient safety.
7. Establishing a national patient identification system.
8. Improve access to CMS provider data. The hope is that this will allow the creation of market-based provider directories.
9. Refocus ONC coordination efforts on government entities.
10. Create uniform, national patient privacy laws.
This year’s conference, which will be held in Las Vegas on August 9 – 13, will include an updated report on the State of Healthcare, including barriers to care and emerging opportunities. One focus of this report is the current state of digital health and the lessons learned during the pandemic.
The CTA also plans to host a fall forum in September of 2021. This symposium will include a special session on digital therapeutics.
The goal of creating digital health standards is to get everyone on the same page for the benefit of caregivers and their patients. With interconnected systems, we can improve technologies and care delivery systems to provide better access to care. This, in turn, means more robust care delivery and better outcomes for patients and their families.
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