How should you think about integration between different systems when you want to start working on new digital channels in healthcare? Should it be in place already when you get started, or is it ok to wait? There are no universal answers, but we have compiled some points that are good to keep in mind regarding integration.
One of the goals of digital healthcare is to make it more efficient. Parts of the administrative work can be transferred to the patients themselves, while the administration done by healthcare staff can proceed quickly and smoothly with the help of smart technology. At the same time, the tool that enables the digital transformation may mean that healthcare staff have another system to log in to and more buttons to press – at least initially. Yet another login by itself may not be embraced by everyone in a profession that already faces a great deal of pressure.
Give up the idea of a universal solution
Many healthcare professionals probably dream of a tool where everything is gathered; a working environment free of double documentation, with systems that require a single login and can easily generate and export aggregate information. However, finding a tool that can offer exactly everything you need, both today and in the long run, may not be feasible. On the other hand, it is entirely possible to work in different systems that contribute in different areas and when working in parallel, they meet all of your needs. If these can be integrated, good conditions for documentation and administration to work smoothly are there.
How important is integration?
Do you need to integrate the systems to be able to work effectively with your virtual clinic? If so, at what stage should you invest in this? There is no straightforward answer to these questions, as the needs and conditions are often different. For some smaller caregivers, managing parallel systems may not be a major problem. They can find other solutions that facilitate administration, e.g. use dual screens to get an overview of a specific case. For larger healthcare organizations, however, it may be something to strive for, at least in a long-term perspective.
It’s important to be aware that integration between different systems is not a prerequisite to ignite your digital transformation. On the contrary, there can be advantages to hold that thought until your virtual clinic is up and running and you have the opportunity to measure results and evaluate. Most start their digital transformation projects on a smaller scale, work, test in parallel systems, analyse and build on the business from that point onward. With these experiences in the baggage, your understanding about your needs, volumes, and functionality increases, which can affect what you choose to focus on when it comes to integration. Maybe integrated systems are of the utmost importance for you to take your reception to the next level, but maybe not.
…but plan for the opportunity
However, most people try to avoid locking themselves into a certain solution. It is likely that the business will grow or change over time, and the decisions made at a certain period may not be valid in the future. Therefore, when selecting a platform, it is important to investigate whether it is prepared for integration and whether it has a high degree of technical interoperability, ie. the opportunity to interact with other systems. Such a system offers open APIs, a type of keys that allow different systems to communicate with each other. With these tools, you can quickly get started with what you already have, evaluate and make more informed decisions over time. If integration happens too quickly, it can lead to you locking yourself in defective solutions that are not optimal in the long run.