Healthcare needs better B2B integration and Managed File Transfer


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The healthcare and pharmaceuticals sectors are in sore need of a paradigm shift. As industries in which data accuracy and timeliness can make the difference between life and death, it's imperative that healthcare providers enhance their B2B integration, electronic data interchange and managed file transfer systems. It's a tall order with many factors in play: Compliance regulations conflict with client requirements. Federal initiatives impact financial planning. Data analysis complicates insurance processes. And information security concerns make everything more difficult.


The complex web that ties together medical providers, insurers, pharmaceutical companies and other sector stakeholders continues to grow more tangled. Traditional approaches simply aren't up to the task of containing emerging concerns without a high risk of bloated budgets or unsustainable resourcing decisions. Fortunately, there are tools that can help organizations in the healthcare sector eliminate miscommunication and information security risks. B2B integration, EDI and MFT can help healthcare organizations make drastic improvements in their most pressure-filled areas.

Data breaches and MFT
The healthcare sector continues to be a favorite target for cybercriminals. Without preventative measures that eliminate system and supply chain vulnerabilities, the industry will continue to be a hackers' playground. According to Forbes contributor Jacqueline Vanacek, 90 percent of healthcare organizations will experience an information compromise of some kind, if they haven't already.

Bad odds are compounded by the variety of threats. Although malware and distributed denial-of-service attacks may take the central role in healthcare chief information officers' nightmares, physical threats cannot be discounted. These include a physical theft of computers from a Los Angeles-based medical billing company, which the Los Angeles Times reported has now affected 338,700 patients in Los Angeles County.

More data and better analysis can have a positive impact on patient care, hospital management and diagnostics, to name just a few. However, compliance regulations place strict guidelines on how organizations can store, process and use this data. This creates complications, noted Vanacek.

"Today's assortment of compliance regulations, with a host of proprietary data standards and formats, impede our ability to secure the data so we can integrate it and share among stakeholders to create new healthcare models," she wrote.

MFT systems can help organizations protect their internal networks through proxy servers, which offer robust encryption and authentication protocols that provide access and session controls that actually combat today's threats. They enable organizations to transmit files within the enterprise and between B2B partners, preventing data or infrastructure from becoming vulnerable.

The Affordable Care Act and EDI
As more people enroll in insurance plans through the ACA, it will create complications for healthcare supply chains. ACA enrollment hit the 5 million mark in mid-March, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the government continues a strong push to get more residents involved. Political implications aside, the influx of so many people, many of whom have not had health insurance previously or are changing their plans significantly, into insurance plans can create administrative issues.

One of the major impacts that the ACA will have on the healthcare supply chain is that it will increasingly hold providers accountable for service quality, costs and positive outcomes. The need for more transparency and high-quality service will affect data management, as customer-facing providers will need to ensure compliance and rigor in its business partnerships. This will have a profound effect on data processing and security.

EDI can be leveraged for enhanced document integration, translation and tracking. EDI systems offer auditing and archiving capabilities that ensure all documents are securely stored and accessible for any customer, vendor or auditor questions. They also provide the opportunity for better data management through centralized communications protocols and holistic monitoring tools. Capabilities such as flexible document scheduling allow users to enhance the configuration of business logic in file transfers and cut down on preventable errors. 

Outside factors and B2B integration

Pharmaceutical companies are particularly affected by stricter compliance concerns, as well as the continued integration of automated processing into daily operations. B2B integration software can help these organizations avoid mounting compliance, security and management issues that can stand in the way of premium connectivity. 

For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced that it will tighten its inspection of pharmaceutical ingredients manufactured in China due to security and economic concerns, according to Reuters. While this move reflects the sometimes testy relationship between the two global superpowers, China is the source of nearly half of the 80 percent of active ingredients and bulk chemicals that come from overseas and are used in U.S. medicines. A longer and more complex inspection process could have implications on U.S. healthcare order systems and disrupt B2B partnerships.

B2B integration software offers an intelligent, flexible framework for B2B relationship building, leveraging cloud-based services and automation to reduce the time and resources needed for key payment, order and shipping processes. With more accountability and visibility baked into transactions and process management, companies in the pharmaceutical industry can better interface with business partners and cut down on complications.

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