3 Fundamental Problems with Healthcare Interoperability and Can Digital Twin Technology Help?

I recently came across an article by Verto which identified 3 fundamental problems with interoperability and care coordination in healthcare as follows:

  1. Data Integration and Aggregation
  2. Sub-Set of the Data Relevant to a Particular Care Step
  3. Data Governance and Patient Transitions

The article was spot on in identifying these problems.  First, healthcare is never going to have a single repository of all health information.  Second, the process of identifying which data is relevant at that specific point in the care journey is hard and often changes patient to patient.  Third, no one truly owns the transition of care and thus has a vested interest to ensure data transition.

The article described the challenge really well as follows:

Let’s say there are 500 data elements related to a single patient, but in step three of a seventeen step diabetes care path, only 13 of those data elements are relevant. Now, the clinician has to sift through hundreds of data elements to find the specific ones they need to provide quality care for that third step in the patient’s care plan. This becomes even worse in the fourth step of the care plan, because there are 15 relevant data elements and five of them are different from the 13 relevant for step three.

If the above description isn’t scary enough, add in that many of those 13 relevant data elements aren’t available from a single data source (like your EMR) and let’s not even talk about the case when the data is needed by different organizations like in a care transition.  The problem is clear.

Is Digital Twin Technology a Solution?

Verto asserts that an important piece to solving this data challenge is implementing a “Digital Twin”.  In fact, they’re doing a webinar on Sep 17 at 12 PM ET that’s Free to Signup and learn about their approach to Digital Twin Technology in healthcare.

For those not familiar with digital twin technology, they’re essentially virtual replicas of physical items.  Gartner has identified Digital Twin Technology as one of the top strategic technology trends and recently shared that 75% of organizations implementing IoT already use digital twin technology or plan to within a year.  While we see this massive growth in IoT, healthcare has been slower to adopt digital twin technology.  No surprise there since healthcare generally is a late adopter, but there’s definitely an opportunity for digital twin technology in healthcare.

One use for digital twin technology is to know which care step the patient is in on their care journey.  By tracking a patient’s digital twin, you can have context on which data is relevant for that care step.  Plus, you can ensure a safe outpatient flow.  This has become particularly important during COVID-19 where it’s valuable to know how many people are in various waiting areas and rooms and are they at a safe social distancing capacity.  Not to mention you can queue cleaning schedules off of this digital twin tracking technology.

My favorite potential use for digital twin technology is that they could potentially serve multiple masters.  Whether you’re the hospital, clinic, or a LTPAC organization, you could each choose to use the digital twin in different ways.  In fact, what’s to keep the digital twin from serving the patient directly?  Nothing!  And that’s one thing that makes digital twin technology so exciting.  Although, first we need to start tracking the patient’s digital twin at the healthcare organization and then we can expand to other organizations and patients from there.

If you want to learn more, check out Verto’s webinar on Digital Twin Technology to see how they’re using it to address the challenge of healthcare interoperability.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.