Three Barriers to Unlocking Healthcare’s Digital Front Door & How to Overcome Them


We’ve entered a dynamic new ecosystem of data sharing as healthcare embraces the need for better connectivity, aiming to give patients better accessibility to their own data. The digital front door is key to fueling this flow of information and patient access, but there are still barriers big and small.

Relatient CTO, Kevin Montgomery, shared some thoughts recently in an interview with Future Healthcare Today’s Peter Jacobs. They talked about the great divide that still exists between EHR’s and other key systems that are important to the major functions of healthcare organizations. Kevin says he has hope for the future of healthcare integration, but in the meantime highlights the following barriers to unlocking healthcare’s digital front door and some advice for overcoming them.

1. Alignment and training can make or break the success of a health IT tool. When tools don’t fit naturally into daily workflows and training isn’t sufficient, staff and providers often resist fully adopting tools that were intended to further patient access and engagement. ROI requires that providers and staff have confidence in how to access and use tools and also find the software to be beneficial in streamlining what used to be manual work. 

Kevin described one of his own experiences in which a healthcare provider struggled to find a lab value, “They were having difficulty finding it, to the point where they were getting noticeably frustrated. The answer on how to find this was right there in front of them. Either they just didn’t know how to use it or got caught up in past workflows of sorting through pages of clinical notes to find it. This really sheds light on the challenges they are facing trying to integrate technology into their day.

2. Integration remains one of the most significant barriers to the exchange of patient data. On the topic of interoperability, Kevin says, “it’s like we’re looking for the Holy Grail”. Though FHIR aims to fix this, it isn’t without limitations and challenges—we are closer and yet still far away from a solution to our interoperability problems.

Kevin summarized, “Even though we’re moving forward with technology integration, we still may be making the same mistakes of the past of not having all the data available. You need to seek out vendors that understand these challenges and have demonstrated experience in integration.

3. Disjointed planning is an easy barrier to unknowingly create as organizations often reach for the nearest tool to solve immediate problems but in doing so they can end up with fragmented systems that don’t work together. The very solutions intended to unlock the digital front door can keep it closed if they aren’t selected and implemented as part of a larger strategy. 

Kevin’s advice: Instead of just looking at one facet of your business and saying, “I need to accomplish this,” you need to look at an overall goal: “What am I trying to accomplish in the short term and long term?” I want to do X now and do Y in six months and Z in next year. How does that affect my clinical staff, my administrative staff, how does it affect the patients? Who am I going to align myself with to make sure this happens efficiently? It’s all about connecting with the right partner that can have these conversations with you. 

The great news is that a strong partner can help you avoid, eliminate, or reduce the impact of these barriers. Integration will continue to be the greatest challenge but an experienced partner can guide you to through the right integrations that leverage your existing systems. A world-class partner can also help you identify and plan for both the workflows of the staff and providers who will use the solution day-to-day and ensure the long-term viability of your strategy. 

I’m extremely hopeful about the future and how we’re going to be able to share data and accommodate all these different new tools and workflows and needs out of the medical community.” 

Kevin Montgomery, CTO, Relatient

Listen to Kevin & Peter’s conversation here

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