- MEDITECH announced Sept. 18 the release of its healthcare app development environment MEDITECH Greenfield. The platform will enable organizations to develop applications that will be interoperable with the MEDITECH EHR.
Greenfield is supported by RESTful application programming interfaces (APIs) including FHIR and can be used by MEDITECH EHR customers to build custom applications for their healthcare environment.
“In today's healthcare paradigm, EHRs are not only judged on their inherent functionality, but also for how well they connect with other systems,” said MEDITECH President and CEO Howard Messing in a statement. “Greenfield is a natural extension of our open web environment, and represents another important step in MEDITECH's commitment to driving interoperability and innovation forward.”
Greenfield also includes a technical support online forum for developers and a list of approved apps that integrate with MEDITCH EHR.
Connecting EHRs with other health IT systems can significantly improve the quality of care because clinicians can access the information they need much more quickly.
Interoperability has long been a challenge for healthcare organizations so vendors providing platforms for organizations to develop apps using common APIs can significantly improve access to critical data.
One of the most difficult aspects of integrating apps into health IT infrastructure is EHR compatibility. Many healthcare organizations have older or customized EHRs. Even if two entities are using the same Epic or Cerner EHR, if the systems have been customized it becomes difficult for organizations to integrate apps with their EHR.
Building apps to integrate with EHRs becomes even more complicated for large health systems that have acquired multiple healthcare companies with different EHR systems.
“It's like a plumbing problem or electrical problem where you connect the wire from the app to the backend as a service platform, and then you connect another wire from the backend as a service platform to the EHR system,” Sravish Sridhar, GM of Kinvey and Progress GM told HITInfrastrucuture.com. “They are two different wires, so if the electronic health record system changes or gets updated, you just have to add a new wire for that backend integration.”
Part of the problem healthcare organizations are facing with EHR integration and interoperability is legacy tools that can’t connect with each other.
“The real problem right now is this transition phase where it's an old kind of infrastructure that worked well for 30 years but now government incentives are pushing people towards web-based APIs, and newer applications are just out of the loop when it comes to the old variety,” Redox Senior Developer Nick Hatt explained to HITInfrastructure.com. “They’re disconnected.”
Legacy solutions are a notorious roadblock for many health IT infrastructure projects and often cause interoperability and security problems.
“If you think about data sharing as a public utility, like water or electricity, the healthcare industry looks like a street,” said Hatt. “Each house is a different health system.”
“In the utility world, you need to have that last mile of electricity or plumbing coming to your house,” he continued. “In healthcare that just doesn't exist for sharing data. Even identifying where you would go to use an API for one of those health systems is impossible without getting into a whole long IT implementation process.”
APIs help organizations build a clearer path to transition through one app building project at a time to make sure it can gather information from appointment scheduling tools to MRI imaging software. Building applications this way makes it easier for applications to connect when they are brought together rather than having to figure out what needs to be changed in order to connect.
Introducing a development platform for an EHR like MEDITECH Greenfield can help organizations sort out the “plumbing and electrical” type problems that they face when integrating tools. Building custom applications and leveraging technology can help fuel digital transformation. Making digital tools available to clinicians seamlessly enables clinicians to spend more time interacting with patients to provide better quality care.