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October 05, 2018
HOW MICROSERVICES CAN IMPROVE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE IN HEALTHCARE
By: Anil Bhatt, Vice President, Digital Technologies & Transformation, Anthem

Five tips to help get you started

Healthcare delivery occurs through a complex set of interactions. Even when patients receive great care they are often confused and frustrated by the process. Microservices and event-driven architectures can reduce the burdensome by-product of complex interactions and enable a more seamlessly integrated patient experience.

What are microservices? Simply put, microservices are the technical enablement of the standard tasks performed by your organization every day. They reflect, in a digital form, how your organization does business. With a suite of microservices you have the “building blocks” for internal systems integrations as well the enabler of APIs to power patient and other stakeholder interactions.

For the healthcare organization, properly defined microservices deliver on the promise of reusability and modularity. By providing context-driven information access, they eliminate the inefficiencies inherent in dedicated point-to-point integrations and avoid the pitfalls of a one-size-fits-all service-based integration approach. Microservices are not always easy to implement but the value they deliver and the efficiencies they create for patients, practitioners and payer organizations make them imperative.

Microservices can promote interoperability within and across healthcare organizations by serving as an efficient mechanism for enabling industry standard-based interfaces such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR). This is particularly useful where, as is the case with FHIR, the standard is evolving. Microservices can be exposed through a standard-compliant façade. That allows the façade to evolve with the standard without having to redefine the underlying microservice information object.

Perhaps the most compelling case for microservices is they enable evolution beyond the traditional healthcare delivery model to interoperate in new and creative ways. They allow organizations to efficiently collaborate to improve and enhance the patient experience with information and services integrated from a larger API ecosystem. For example, patient medical expenses could be automatically shared with tax and financial services providers, or non-emergency transportation arranged with ride-sharing services, etc.

While microservices offer a huge opportunity to enhance patient experience and care it isn’t always easy to get started. What’s required to define and enable microservices and event processing solutions in your organization will depend on its individual characteristics. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Start with a clear understanding of your business’ or organization’s functions. Know your organization’s role in the broader healthcare delivery model.

  • Understand what your customers are doing and the context in which they do it. Where do they fit; what are their interests and objectives?

  • Start small where there are opportunities to make an impact internally (e.g., automate manual processes).

  • Define a strategy and communicate it. Create a roadmap.

  • Be willing to be imperfect. Acknowledge the unknowns and pursue the knowns.

For more on microservices, read Frictionless Business, trend 4 in the 2018 Digital Health Tech Vision.

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