Solving Interoperability Challenges With Managed Services

|  Published:  May 12, 2023

An Insight Into Interoperability Adoption

Smile Digital Health recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to capture pertinent healthcare data surrounding Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) adoption in healthcare. As a result, Forrester conducted online surveys with 145 senior-level interoperability leaders across the US healthcare sector to quantitatively understand their perspectives on open standards. From that study, several insightful patterns revealed themselves. One promising trend was that when providers embraced data automation via open standards, they experienced significant operational improvements to their healthcare services, such as elevated health outcomes, cost reductions, and reduced patient churn. 

That being said, while many providers experienced significant operational improvements after implementing FHIR, Forrester's study showed a common list of challenges that actively hindered organizations from experiencing the full impact of these benefits. 

This blog will investigate these interoperability-related challenges and outline how they can be easily addressed by using Smile's Managed Services solution. 

Identifying The Obstacles to Interoperability

So what were the common interoperability challenges flagged in the Forrester study? 

When Forrester asked their survey participants, "Which of the following interoperability challenges does your organization face today?" a majority of participant's responses (57%) echoed the following sentiment: 

“We struggle to take full advantage of the opportunities that improved interoperability unearths (i.e., beyond compliance).

More specifically, their challenges were described as a lack of the following:

  • A comprehensive interoperability strategy (46%)    

  • Internal expertise to facilitate interoperability (46%)

  • Resources/bandwidth to adopt FHIR at scale (47%)

What Smile learned from these challenges was that while adopting FHIR can provide organizations with near-limitless ways to optimize their data exchange, providers need additional expertise to unlock FHIR's full potential. The Forrester study corroborated this claim, as 77% of providers agreed that having the right external partner is crucial to improving their organization's interoperability. More specifically, the right external partner will help offset knowledge and bandwidth gaps that exist with providers today.

To address this, Smile offers a Managed Services solution that allows organizations to reap the full benefits of open standards by equipping them with FHIR experts who can offer implementation, operations and maintenance expertise in a fully-hosted solution.

Here’s how Managed Services can address some of the major challenges mentioned in the Forrester study. 

Your Comprehensive FHIR Strategy 

One of the most important aspects of adopting FHIR is creating a robust FHIR strategy which enables value creation for your organization through tangible RIO savings while also adhering to regulatory compliance requirements.

To accomplish this, it’s important to build out your solution by identifying and implementing use cases on an incremental basis. This allows your organization to prioritize and make the best value out of FHIR. However, building out this FHIR strategy can be extremely difficult without having access to the right level of FHIR expertise. 

In response to this problem, Smile Managed Services offers FHIR experts who can give guidance and best practices on which FHIR strategy can help an organization reach its goals and objectives. Not only will they be provided insights on their FHIR strategy, but they'll be given peace of mind knowing their FHIR plan is vetted by FHIR experts, who can successfully roll out their implementation once the plan has been put in place. 

Error-Free Implementation 

Many providers don't feel like they possess the internal resources needed to facilitate implementation effectively. This concern reflects a lack of available, reliable and experienced FHIR experts. Smile Managed Services helps solve this issue by helping organizations implement effectively so they can experience the benefits of a swift implementation delivered by trusted resources with true FHIR expertise. 

For example, small providers can benefit from a hands-off implementation approach as it will save them the trouble of hiring additional IT team members. Additionally, they avoid dealing with the unpredictable costs of utilizing ad hoc services.

Conversely, larger organizations with their own IT teams can avoid inefficient implementations by circumventing the multi-level coordination that comes with using large siloed internal IT teams. 

Either way, whether the enterprise is large or small, by using Smile Managed Services, organizations can expect an implementation that leads to consistent performance from their Smile platform. That’s why Smile Managed Services comes with a 99.95% - 99.99% uptime guarantee so that users can rest easy knowing their critical business needs won’t be interrupted by unexpected downtime triggered by a poor FHIR implementation. 

Additionally, Smile Managed Services customers are provided with key performance indicators (KPIs) on a periodic basis so they have visibility to metrics that prove their platform is operating at peak performance post-implementation. 

Scaling To Business Needs 

Once a Provider has successfully implemented FHIR, they must be able to maintain, secure and scale their environment as their organization grows. Unfortunately, this was another challenge holding back survey participants in the Forrester study, as 47% claimed they lacked the resources required to adopt interoperability standards (e.g., FHIR) at scale. 

Smile Managed Services allows organizations to leverage Azure & AWS native cloud capacity demand (horizontal and vertical scalability), which automatically adds more capacity when users need to scale their data environment. As a result, organizations can rely on ongoing management and maintenance that enables them to quickly adapt to any challenges or new opportunities that come their way without putting stress on internal resources. 

Not only will organizations that leverage Smile Managed Services grow more freely, but they'll also have access to disaster recovery features like storage level snapshots, database level backups and variable recovery times so that their productivity is never compromised by an unforeseen issue.

In summation, the Smile Managed Services scaling feature ensures that an organization's ambition and growth are never stifled by its inability to scale. 

The Forrester study showcases how providers are just scratching the surface of what can be accomplished with FHIR. While operational improvements have been proven to accompany those adopting open standards, many providers who've embraced interoperability have done so without the expertise needed to fully maximize its benefits. 

That's why Smile is proud to offer a Managed Services solution that helps drive innovation forward into a new frontier of #BetterGlobalHealth. Smile can also help organizations navigate the incoming ONC and CMS mandates so that they can swiftly meet evolving requirements without taking their eye off important clinical and business needs. So, if you're interested in partnering with a trusted vendor that can guarantee you're getting the best out of your FHIR platform, contact Smile’s sales team today!