Portals as the Answer to Meaningful Use

Loraine Lawson

You may not think of health care as a B2B market, but when it comes to data integration and meaningful use, more health care facilities are turning to B2B technology.

There are several reasons why B2B makes space for health care, including:

  • Standards
  • The need for security
  • Requirements to share data between business partners (hospitals with doctors; pharmacy with hospitals; etc.)

In particular, more medical institutions are turning to portal technology as a way to build health information exchanges, according to David Linthicum.

Linthicum is a familiar name in the business integration space. He’s currently senior vice president with Cloud Technology Partners, a cloud computing consulting and advisory firm, but he’s long been an expert writer and speaker in the data integration space.

Linthicum is exploring the use of patient/physician portals in an informal series of columns for Health Data Management that started Jan. 3, with a look at cloud-based patient portals. He acknowledges that while health care IT security and privacy requirements make cloud-based patient portals ill-advised “in many cases,” there’s still room for a cloud-based model.

In the second part, he discussed physician portals and meaningful use.

With the most recent piece, he jumps into what I see as the heart of the issue: data integration and portals.

“Many providers have a bit of a mess on their hands when it comes to extracting and externalizing key information,” he writes. “There is no common integration approach or technology, and there is also no or little semantic understanding of the data, not to mention ownership, security, or governance.”

Well-built and designed portals can help address these concerns while fulfilling meaningful use requirements, he explains. In fact, the more you use a portal, the more you increase the data available within the portal.


“This includes leveraging analytics built around local and remote big data systems that provide the ability to validate diagnostics and treatments against massive amounts of historical treatment and outcome data,” he said.

Of course, building up to a complete record will take time. To help organizations get started, he outlines four planning steps that are critical to portal success:

  1. Understand the data. Be warned: There’s a lot of work lurking in that short sentence, such as defining owners, understanding structure, source, governance.
  2. Logically group the data.
  3. Define interfaces and access approaches. This is where you’re defining how you want to handle the integration.
  4. Define the analytics services.

He’s writing about health care systems, but the steps are also useful for any B2B portal.

Full disclosure: I often write about B2B technologies for B2B.com, which is a vendor-neutral site for Software AG. On thing I know from that work is these systems are a great way to capture operational data that otherwise is pretty isolated from the enterprise IT systems.

By focusing on the data preparation, instead of just the technology, Linthicum’s steps will help ensure you’re capturing what the business needs to gain better insight into business processes. So, definitely check out this piece before starting a portal project.



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