UC San Francisco and IT vendor Cisco announced this week an initiative to jointly develop an interoperability platform for sharing healthcare information among multiple entities. The platform will be designed to enable health systems, providers and application vendors to share and integrate health data from multiple sources, according to a statement from UCSF.
The U.S. Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) estimates that gaps in health interoperability cost the U.S. economy billions per year. While roughly 94 percent of hospitals and 78 percent of office physicians use certified electronic health records, those records often cannot be accessed by providers in other health systems. As a result, the ONC estimates that one in three consumers remains burdened with providing their own health information when seeking care for a medical problem.
With the goal of advancing interoperability across the healthcare industry, Cisco and UCSF will establish a collaborative center at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus. At the center, staff from both entities will be able to collectively test and scale the interoperability platform across different devices, IT systems and software.
“Fragmentation of information is one of the most challenging impediments in healthcare today,” Michael Blum, M.D., UCSF associate vice chancellor for Informatics and director of the UCSF Center for Digital Health Innovation, which houses this initiative for UCSF, said. “In human terms, the consequences are enormous: the lack of complete information on our patients leads to poor, costly care, delays in diagnosis or treatment, and dissatisfied patients - all due to health information systems that cannot communicate with one another. In this age of apps, social media, and mobile communications, this status quo is completely unacceptable to both patients and providers. We plan to change all of that with this partnership.”
At part of this initiative, Cisco will extend its digital business platform with healthcare-specific capabilities to enable the rapid creation and deployment of applications focused at specific interoperability challenges within healthcare.
“There is a tremendous opportunity to integrate the field of healthcare,” Mala Anand, senior vice president of Software Platforms Group, Cisco, said. “By connecting the data, processes and experiences together across the participants in the healthcare ecosystem, we have an opportunity to truly transform healthcare. We’re very excited to be embarking on this journey with UCSF - a leader in health sciences research and patient care.”
This platform also will enable providers to incorporate new and valuable sources of information from outside the clinical system, such as personal health applications, wearable sensors, consumer devices and home monitors, which will be integrated with clinical data.
“All of us experience varying states of wellness and illness in our lives and contact many points of care, where important data is generated. We move freely between those points of care, but our data does not,” Aenor Sawyer, M.D., an UCSF orthopedist who also is a cancer patient, said. “With this interoperability platform in place, the volumes of health data generated from clinical and non-clinical sources can be integrated and analyzed, resulting in accessible and actionable information and, ultimately, better care.”
The initiative will leverage industry, healthcare and government relationships, including early industry partners. According to UCSF, the platform initially will be piloted for patients at UCSF Medical Center and ultimately extend to other affiliated entities within UCSF Health, including UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals and joint ventures with John Muir Health and Hospice by the Bay. It is expected to expand rapidly throughout the UC system and with other healthcare delivery partners nationwide.