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Opening Access to the Health Data Highway Puts Patients in the Driver’s Seat

Published on 4/4/2018
The next phase of health care depends on finding new ways for individuals to take an active role in their wellness while continuing to advance the best care possible. Mobile apps, personal devices and social media networks are creating an environment where patients are comfortable monitoring their own activities and progress. Care doesn’t end after a patient leaves their doctor’s office. Providers are acknowledging this and aligning with health care IT suppliers in recognizing it’s the patient who should be in the driver’s seat.

That realization is evident as health care leaders come together to discuss ways the industry can feed the demand for open access and a stronger bi-directional data exchange between patient and provider.

By health care systems, vendors and consumer technology companies opening access to make data exchange more fluid and standardizing the language that developers use to build more user-friendly tools and apps that connect with the EHR and other IT platforms, patients will find it easier to take a more active role in their own health care. Although Cerner has always been at the leading edge of empowering consumers and supporting the needed innovation that comes with that, we feel particularly encouraged by the most recent wave that is building across the industry.

Our nation’s veterans setting the pace for market change

With the ever-evolving growth in technology, consumer expectations for this ownership are increasing. The industry must answer by supporting an open ecosystem that helps developers tap into the digitized record. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently made a bold move to encourage this by announcing its Open API Pledge initiative, calling on providers to support API standardization. 

The VA initiative could be industry-defining. The VA health system is one of the nation’s largest, so the collective force behind the effort can work as an accelerant for broad scale improvement to data accessibility. The veteran patient population will be a catalyst for change that will broaden the VA’s connection with community care partners, and the VA’s intent to modernize its systems carries with it the promise of seamless data exchange between the individual and their care team. 

To show our support for this initiative and acknowledge its importance in ushering in a new era of collaboration, Cerner is committed to sign the pledge as an industry partner. We support Dr. Rasu Shrestha and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, as well as our other clients – Intermountain Healthcare and VCU Health – who have already pledged their support of the VA’s API effort and encourage other health systems around the nation, whether Cerner clients or not, to get behind the VA on this important initiative. This is the right thing to do – not just for veterans, but for all Americans. We call on all data creators and data consumers – not just in health care but in all sectors of technology and consumer goods – to openly share information for the benefit of society.

An open ecosystem leads to smarter care

Working to provide smarter care and better outcomes is who Cerner is at its core. Cerner has always supported national health care exchanges and open architecture, helping to guide policy and direction that supports standards such as those set by HL7, NCPDP and X1ealth. We are a part of HL7’s Argonaut Project, a collaborative effort to advance industry adoption of modern, open interoperability standards. Along with others in healthcare like Epic, MEDITECH, Mayo Clinic, Intermountain Healthcare and Partners HealthCare, we are working to speed the development and adoption of HL7's Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard (FHIR), which the VA is supporting in their initiative.

We encourage third-party developers to create Substitutable Medical Applications and Reusable Technologies (SMART) apps and we open our platforms to support a culture of collaboration. We encourage developers building applications to use our Cerner Open Developer Experience that provides access to Cerner's sandbox, a suite of developer tools to build applications run on top of Cerner Millennium and Cerner HealtheIntent population health platform via our APIs. As a result, we have 20 validated apps working off our platforms so far and more than 15,000 unique users accessing these apps each month. 

We also help our clients better understand how care quality outcomes can be improved through tools built using API that can plug into workflows to visualize records and exchange data outside their system. This access also will offer providers the ability to tap into data to get insights on health trends or populations. Remotely monitoring patient’s regiments will be possible so health concerns can be flagged based on behavior or social determinants self-reported by the consumer, resulting in a holistic treatment approach and reduced costs for patients.

Open standards are essential to help connect patients with their own care experience and improve care outcomes. Learn more about Cerner’s open platforms and technology.