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Epic EMR Integration to Enhance Healthcare
System Interoperability

By: John Bailey

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Healthcare providers have demanded greater data transparency and EHR interoperability for their databases. To address this, the Affordable Care Act, the USCDI (United States Core Data for Interoperability) defined new standards for transferring clinical and administrative data.

This new standard dictate that, with APIs, vendors need to make health applications more available, exchangeable, and legally compliant. Many healthcare organizations utilize their own processes to maintain organization within their company, however, without an EMR/EHR system in place that allows them to maintain structure, order, and compliance, a healthcare organization is much more likely to become a healthcare “dis-organization” (pun intended).

Epic is an electronic health records management application that helps medical professionals, hospitals, and other healthcare providers easily add, view, update, and store their patients’ medical records. This creates order and clarity for a software that has a learning curve.

Integrating Epic into current business systems has helped patients, doctors, and researchers alike to optimize interoperability within their infrastructure. In this article, we’ll shed more light on how integrating Epic EMR can enhance healthcare system interoperability for all types of healthcare organizations.

How Epic Interoperability Makes a Difference

With a market share of over 34%, Epic integration is one of the world’s largest and most widely used integrations for healthcare EMR systems. It has a significant role in advancing interoperability and data transparency. It has proven its commitment to this by becoming one of the first providers to adopt the standards set out by HL7 International and other organizations.

These standards allow third-party apps to access EHR records regardless of the EHR provider. This is a huge step forward, as communication between healthcare providers has never been more universal. Also known as FHIR, these standards stand for fast healthcare interoperability resources. FHIR resources, including the SMART on FHIR standards, build apps that work on any platform and server.

Epic integration services can help your business to integrate Epic’s software, which will enhance the user experiences of doctors, pharmacists, hospitals, clinics, and community health centers. The government’s National Coordinator for Health IT has established universal, platform-independent interoperability and shareability as a primary goal. This interoperability must use standard exchanges, open-source software, a library of application programming interfaces (API), public documentation, and reliable connectivity.

Freedom to be Creative

Epic’s built-in API encourages creativity. It will be easy to build applications for iOS, Android, and other operating systems and integrate with Microsoft and Google through cloud-based applications. Meaning this integration can truly be customized to your customer’s needs, preferences, and software.

Maintains Privacy and Security

Healthcare information requires the highest levels of security and privacy, as well as using apps built with FHIR resources, use OAuth2 and OpenID for authorization and permissions. These built-in standards allow patients to approve third-party access to their data provider while maintaining strict security. Offering healthcare providers and patients peace of mind about the protective precautions surrounding sensitive information.

Improves Patient Outcomes

Healthcare providers who don’t have to spend time hunting for the correct patient data have more time for their patients. They will also have quick and easy access to information needed to make accurate diagnostics and treatment decisions. Such FHIR standards can be potentially used to facilitate the flow of clinical data between wearables and EMR systems; such futuristic possibilities offer lower costs and a further improvement in patient outcomes.

An example of Integrating Epic USCDI on FHIR would be to create a Telehealth app. This would allow patients to view their electronic health records with previous diagnoses, prescribed medications, care plans, and more. This integration also enables your customer to pull the patient’s demographic data, and this data can be used when seeing patients remotely and for any other processing purposes.

Reduced Errors

Exchanging health information manually results in numerous errors and misunderstandings. Epic’s cloud-based electronic transmission ensures that records are retained without mistakes.

The Integration of Epic has Already Begun

Epic’s Care Everywhere platform facilitates the exchange of health information amongst various systems. It works with 26 EHR vendors, 21 health information exchanges, 29 health information service providers, and 28 eHealth exchange members (including the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense).

Epic has open exchanges with several industry partners, including NextGen, Allscripts, AthenaHealth, Medent, and eClinical Works. These platforms share more than 150 million documents each month. In other words, there are many benefits to developing software applications for a healthcare company.

When Is Epic EMR Integration Necessary?

Epic EMR integration does not apply to every aspect of healthcare information. An Epic API should be used when:

When is Epic integration not a good fit? (when another API should be used instead):

Integrating with EPIC EMR/EHR

Epic implementation uses OAuth2 and supports the technical side of both STU3 and R4 FHIR resources. There will be no trouble developing compliant apps if you have developers familiar with oAuth2, RESTful dataflow, and calling APIs. For customization, make sure to hire a developer who is familiar with these.

If your customer wants to communicate with FHIR, you must use a conformance statement. This can be found in the metadata of the base URL, and you don’t need to authenticate to use it. The conformance statement will tell you if you’re using the current version of FHIR, give you the authentication URI and enable you to use OAuth2.

What Is the Epic USCDI API?

Also known as Epic on FHIR or the Epic EMR API, this is a free resource for software developers who want to create apps that deal with patient data. The Epic API gives you access to data from a provider-facing app without any charges being assessed to the customer. It offers free, one-way day synching from Epic to your customer’s app.

Why is this important? It allows for analysis of data, running of algorithms, and doing whatever it takes to enhance value-based care for the patient.

Scalability and cost-effectiveness make the Epic USCDI API an essential part of a software toolkit. To get started, register online for a free account. This gives you access to many helpful tools, including support documentation, a testing sandbox, and a library of templates.

Once the app is created, the App Orchard serves as a marketplace. - Only vendors and their customers will have access to this marketplace.

But then there is the question, what is Epic looking for in its new apps? The most popular apps in healthcare enhance patient engagement, diagnostics, clinical decision-making, and documentation. However, this variety in apps grows as more businesses join Epic.

How do You Integrate Your App With Epic EMR/EHR?

Integrate Your App With Epic EMR/EHR

There is a five-step process to creating an app with Epic API:

  1. Check Epic Support. Epic doesn’t work with every version, so be sure the site you are using is supported by your EHR system. If unsure, ask your account manager.

  2. Create an account. Your account on Uscdi.epic.com gives you access to the resources and helps Epic check your identity.

  3. Review the data. Does your software have all the relevant patient information? This will determine if you have the needed endpoints.

  4. Get key and test endpoints. You can use REST to make sure the endpoints are working.

  5. Connect to the app. Use the endpoints to call the API using code.

Common EMR Integration Challenges

Common EMR Integration Challenges

Developing any new software application has its challenges. But when creating a healthcare app, there can be further hurdles that are industry-specific:

Technical

Although the use of EMR and health data exchange is widespread, true integration across platforms remains a challenge as systems must be able to find and retrieve third-party information inside the EMR.

Solution: When working in an EMR system, your software must be configured to share information in the correct user interface. Many developers use APIs to enable this sharing.

Administrative

Some providers and vendors are resistant to interoperability because they don’t want to be flooded with excessive information from multiple sources.

Solution: Have a custom app developed that lets users choose which information and alerts are most relevant to them. This is a helpful feature for both patient-facing and provider-facing apps.

Data Ownership

Open sharing of data can have a downside. It’s essential to define who owns the data and who has the responsibility to report it. How is data kept secure, and how are requests from third parties handled? These are all questions that need a practical answer.

Solution: Before creating an integrated app, define the ownership and reporting roles with the EMR vendor.

Privacy and Security

Some patients and providers worry that the open Health information exchange may compromise the security of those records. Electronic patient files require the highest levels of security.

Solution: Apps compliant with FHIR and SMART standards will meet government requirements for security. The FHIR data format ensures consistency and digestibility, of patient data for apps, without compromising on security. Every app developer must be transparent about the security and privacy features of the app.

Full implementation of any new idea comes with technical, administrative, and other challenges. Fortunately, there are simple solutions for most of these problems. With a reputable developer, your customer can have an app customized to their specific needs and requirements.

An Opportunity to Upgrade Healthcare Systems

Epic has established itself as an industry leader in the pursuit of seamless EHR interoperability. There are numerous ways that your customer’s health care business can benefit from Epic integration. For instance, you can integrate an Epic system with their website, allowing their patients to make appointments online, test results viewable, file for prescription refills, host Telemedicine sessions, and even allow access to their patient charts.

Many valuable solutions can be integrated, such as One Clarity which employs Epic with your customer’s inventory management systems to keep track of instruments used when operating on patients. These solutions can be taken even further if a custom developer is used to tailor the software to your customer’s individual needs and wants.

By using USCDI API, there are endless possibilities with visualizing, analyzing, and running AI algorithms. This up-to-date system offers the opportunity to develop software solutions that improve the healthcare experience for your customers, their patients, and their team members. With its limitless potential (and room for updates), such a custom system pushes healthcare applications into an organized and more efficient future.

Disclaimer:

Chetu, Inc. does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of specific names for software, companies or individuals does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. All case studies and blogs are written with the full cooperation, knowledge and participation of the individuals mentioned. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.

Chetu was incorporated in 2000 and is headquartered in Florida. We deliver World-Class Software Development Solutions serving entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 clients. Our services include process and systems design, package implementation, custom development, business intelligence and reporting, systems integration, as well as testing, maintenance and support. Chetu's expertise spans across the entire IT spectrum.

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