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The explosive growth of digitally native channels like Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb has been driven by their ability to bring convenience to previously unwieldy consumer experiences. Now healthcare providers are engaged in an epic struggle to catch up to new competitors like Amazon by transforming themselves into digital organizations to deliver the same level of convenience. And, hopefully, the same level of consumer loyalty.

But getting there requires more than deploying a shiny new digital wrapper or front door. It requires a new data architecture that supports and enables true digital transformation.

Healthcare Organizations Need a New Approach to Data Architecture to Compete

Not surprisingly, the data architectures that healthcare organizations put in place 10 or 20 years ago are no longer able to handle today’s flood of digital information and consumer demand for convenience. Digital transformation is the right step to take in moving from “overwhelmed” to “convenience” to “personalization.” But for the transformation to work, we need a new approach to data architecture—one that’s open, secure, and bi-directionally integrated with existing systems such as the EHR, CRM, billing, and care management systems. Such an architecture allows FHIR-native platforms to emerge, where all data moves through the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource standard.

The FHIR Standard

The FHIR standard defines how healthcare information can be exchanged between different computer systems regardless of how it’s stored. It allows clinical and administrative data to be available securely to those who have the right to access it for the benefit of patients. The FHIR standard is developed and upgraded based on collaboration with partners across the industry by the standards development organization HL7® (Health Level Seven®).

At b.well, we believe FHIR is the way healthcare data is going to be transacted across the world. It allows health system applications to move and migrate through an integration layer into what EY (Ernst & Young) calls the new consumer health paradigm – participatory healthcare with consumers sitting at the center.

The benefits of this new data architecture and FHIR standard

Get access to real-time data

Open, secure, bi-directional data architecture enables organizations to access and exchange data across systems easily. With FHIR, you can accomplish myriad tasks ranging from identity proofing, consent management, and workflows to external connections, data science, and processing. 

Meet consumers where they are and see the full picture

It’s now possible to gather an individual’s full longitudinal medical history and see all their insurance claims, social determinants, and behavioral preferences. Now you can use that information to make healthcare more convenient by matching consumers with the right doctor at the right time in the right modality to fit their lifestyle. 

Provide a world-class digital consumer experience

Consumers are accustomed to a holistic digital experience when they shop, dine, travel, bank or do just about anything else. They expect when they show up at their healthcare organization’s door that your systems are intelligent enough to know what happened in their previous interactions in person, on the Web, via telehealth, or with your mobile app. Bi-directional integration is the key to delivering the experience they demand. 

Understand your consumers’ behavior

What did your patient or prospective patient do on the website? What hooked them and where in the funnel did they fall off? Knowing this sort of information enables organizations to make changes in assumptions and improve the health experience.

Empower convenient self-service

Organizations can provide consumers with everything from behavioral and wellness programs to telehealth, digital health, virtual health, asynchronous health, access to your services, and more insight into costs and benefits. This self-service healthcare not only is more convenient for consumers but also frees up resources within your organization. And when consumers have a seat at the table in their care, they can start to understand more about health literacy and make choices aligned with evidence-based medicine. 

Offer choice, and improve equity through an app marketplace

Currently, deploying new digital health and solution partners requires very lengthy RFI, RFPs, and selection committees that try to find solutions for an entire population. It’s not only excessively slow but ends up driving the adoption of solutions that may not work for everyone. Now organizations can create robust, open, double-sided marketplaces that allow digital health partners to onboard themselves to your ecosystem. With vastly more solutions to select from, you can now use data science to match individuals to solutions they’re more likely to engage with and in the process improve health equity. 

Taken together, the benefits of an open, secure data architecture represent a powerful consumer convenience

And that power is already being wielded—and by healthcare organizations, not just online retailers. With the right data architecture, healthcare organizations can win big by meeting consumers halfway and bringing routine transactions into the digital age. By doing so, they’ll deliver on convenience in a way that was never possible, let alone dreamed of.

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