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To build the health ecosystem of the future, first we need connectivity

Published by Alex on
To build the health ecosystem of the future, first we need connectivity

In smartphone terms, we're still asking our parents if we can buy a polyphonic ringtone for $4.99

We're definite optimists

We must acknowledge our bias at Vybrance; non-clinicians with a definite optimist perspective. We have a deeply held belief that technology will continue to improve the human condition, and we are here to bring that future into reality.

Starting with a wide aperture, much of the current attention on health technology is aimed at the role of artificial intelligence now and into the future. As positive optimists, we are in awe of the opportunities that AI presents, and continue to consider the ethical aspects of its application to health. While they are many challenges to be discovered and overcome, our view of the impact of AI on health and the human condition is not surprisingly, greatly net positive.

There’s lots to do before AI

While AI is already improving outcomes and the delivery of healthcare is narrow applications, and has practically unlimited upside potential, most of the first order challenges of healthcare technology are decidedly less futuristic, and less exciting to sell tickets to panel discussions.

For countries with mature health systems, healthcare software like Practice Management Systems (PMS) and Electronic Health Records (EHR) have been implemented over the recent decades. For most countries, large scale adoption was driven by federal incentives, like Japan’s Community Medicine Recovery Plan (CMRP), and America’s Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act), both in 2009.

Generally speaking, the result was the healthcare markets adopting readily available software to satisfy government incentives. That software is still in use today, and will continue to be so for many years to come, in part due to enterprise style contracts, long replacement cycles, and understandable risk aversion. Overall the digitisation of healthcare markets has made significant improvements, in record keeping, information portability and efficiency of care delivery.

Health is a massively complex market, with a plethora of incentives, so the meaningful adoption of health software took time, and is continuing today. So we’ve been adopting health software for a decade now, and we’re ready for AI? Not quite.

By Jupter-manzana at English Wikipedia

Much of the health software in use today was written before the iPhone was released. Of course in principle this isn’t an issue, but many of the benefits from modern software, are as a result of modern software ecosystems, their openness standards, and connectivity.

Not the walled garden that was the Nokia N70 I used to sell part time while studying at university. It had a screen, it had connectivity, data capability and a keypad.

The hot features I used in the sales process? “You can check the weather and buy ring tones” — and the second one was a real stretch. But that was about it. No app store, no developer ecosystem, no mobile open source community to speak of, and none of the resulting rich smartphone capability we take for granted today.

Taking the final step, the current state of health software is like checking the weather on a Nokia smartphone. It’s slow, in black and white, and data portability only works within your model or brand ecosystem. And every phone has a different charger. It is no surprise that clinicians are frustrated with the state of health technology, and sceptical about its future.

So the bones of the future are in place, but there are vital missing links before health software can live up to its promise, and power the equivalent of the rich smartphone ecosystem we now take for granted. For anyone who tried to transfer their contacts from a Nokia to a Motorola, you’ll understand why we need to start with connectivity.

We’re building connectivity

As definite optimists, we believe the future is bright, and we have a plan to get there. Our plan to enable the bright future of health, and all it’s AI-augmented promise, is to start with connectivity.

Amongst other key driver, healthcare will be improved by countless companies creating software for health, entering the health market, or running software in health. Software has eaten most other industries, and it seems we are now crossing the event horizon in healthcare; most of the progress is still to come, but there’s no going back now.

For the developers building this future, we are creating software building blocks, the kind of web APIs we know and love in more progressive verticals. APIs that shield some of the complexity of healthcare, so that product companies can focus on their customer or user.

Out first product is a web API to connect to the software commonly used in Primary Care: Practice Management Systems. These are majority on-premise, with a range of commercial and technical barriers to connectivity. Our PMS integration API connects to popular software vendors, and can move data in and out, and manage appointments.

The PMS is at the core of many primary care practices, and is the store of clinical data, so preserving data integrity and appropriate control is vital. We are planning tools to increase the visibility of how data moves, and ensure that patients, practices and clinicians have the appropriate stewardship. Our bright future requires an open and standards-driven approach, the same approach that powers the rich software ecosystems that are part of our daily lives, and continue to thrive.

We’re standing on the shoulders of FHIR

For health, that standard is Fast Health Interoperability Resources (FHIR). FHIR is the culmination of the medical technology community efforts, who have done an incredible job of pushing forward the technical standards for health interoperability. FHIR is the standard adopted by many of the largest technology companies, and is what we build on at Vybrance.

Connect with us at to build the future ecosystem for healthcare, and find out more of the connectivity we are building, as we expand into primary care, and look to hospitals.

Stay hungry, stay open.

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