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Marcus Perez, President, Altera Digital Health

Technology should serve its users, not the other way around. To return the most value to clinicians and patients, health IT tools must be integrated, accessible, and intuitively human-centered. Unfortunately, we all have at least a few systems that fall short of this mark. We can point to a long history of fragmented acquisitions, changing requirements, and the rapid evolution of technology in recent years as valid reasons behind this sub-optimal state of affairs.

But to make sure it doesn’t keep happening, we need to shift our perspective on what it means to build infrastructure and alter our strategies for adopting health IT tools that elevate what clinicians can do instead of restricting them.

The goal is to create a seamless platform of health that offers the accurate, actionable, and timely insights necessary to provide proactive, coordinated care to patients no matter where they are in their personal healthcare journey.

Advancing from piecemeal products to a platform of health

Even the smallest healthcare organizations are extraordinarily complex, with hundreds of different problems to solve at any given moment. Decision makers are often forced to play whack-a-mole with these challenges, using individual health IT products as the hammer to try quashing one issue at a time before another one pops up in its place.

But these products are often limited in scope, both in their available features and in their ability to integrate with other tools to enhance communication and drive coordinated innovation.

What we need instead is a platform-based approach that creates an umbrella of services, technologies, and innovations to support the flow of information across the organization and maximize the utility of each individual component as part of an overall enterprise strategy.

Well-designed platforms foster collaboration between members of care teams by allowing for secure shared access to the latest data, typically using web applications with a high degree of flexibility and minimal downtime. Platforms can also easily integrate with third-party enhancements like AI-driven decision-making tools, ambient voice technologies or remote patient monitoring devices to further advance functionality and help organizations improve experiences and outcomes for patients.

Unleashing the power of platforms with human-centered design

Building this platform of health will require innovative partnerships between the people designing the tools and the people using them. In addition to featuring shared technical standards like Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), the best health products are founded on the elements of human-centered design.

Human-centered design intimately involves clinical end-users from the beginning of the process to co-create with developers to ensure that workflows are intuitive and even delightful to use. With frequent feedback from users, developers can focus closely on the needs of different clinical personas, such as physicians and nurses, so that each member of the care team has the information and processes they need to work together efficiently in service of the patient.

To develop a truly impactful platform of health, this co-creation principle should also be used within the software developer’s organization to make certain that all the individual components that are supposed to work together can do so without repetitious data entry, unclear processes or confusing alarms and alerts.

Achieving the goals of the next-generation healthcare ecosystem

With the power of a platform, care providers will finally be able to move away from the patchwork, product-based approach to infrastructure development.

This shift will be essential as the industry continues to accelerate toward more patient-centered approaches that will demand access to even more complex insights. All members of the care team, including those operating outside a given health system, will need to share data quickly, responsibly, safely — and with the right context — to make collaborative care decisions with their patients.

Organizational leaders should begin the process by conducting a thorough assessment of existing technologies, developing a roadmap to connect what can be connected and reimagine what can’t, and engaging clinical user champions to actively participate in architecting a new platform of health.

By taking a broader and more intentional stance toward infrastructure development and harnessing cutting-edge technologies built on strong standards with extensive user input, healthcare decision makers can turn their vision of more efficient, effective care into a reality.

Visit here to learn more about Altera’s Platform of Health.