Interoperability is crucial as healthcare becomes more global and more connected. And the pandemic has emphasized the importance of being able to exchange data accurately, securely and quickly.
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) defines interoperability as “the ability of different information systems, devices and applications (‘systems’) to access, exchange, integrate and cooperatively use data in a coordinated manner, within and across organizational, regional and national boundaries, to provide timely and seamless portability of information and optimize the health of individuals and populations globally.”
While paper-based health records are usable only by one person at a time at a particular location, electronic files allow information to be to exchanged and used simultaneously by authorized users from multiple locations.
Health data interoperability and user-centered electronic health record (EHR) design can help address administrative burdens so providers can spend more time with patients. “Strengthening the integration of data across different platforms and health sectors allows for a more complete picture of a patient’s health while promoting care coordination.” When you have a more complete picture, providers can see where somebody may be developing more chronic diseases or comorbidities.
For patients it’s often difficult to access their personal health data electronically. However, with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule, there is a greater effort to give patients access to, and ownership of, this data.
It is highly important that there are security measures in place while increasing the availability of data in a safe, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) compliant way. Patients must be able to trust their providers to keep health information safe and secure.
Interoperability is simply sharing the right information at the right time, enabling the clinician or patient to take the right action. “It will take time for all types of health IT to be fully interoperable. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking out opportunities to accelerate and promote the development of interoperability across the health care system. When we achieve interoperability and widespread exchange of information, providers will have the infrastructure to deliver patient-centered, value-driven care that improves health outcomes while reducing costs.”
Interoperability initiates a major healthcare shift that puts consumers in control. The cost of non-interoperable solutions, including duplicative workflows and increased administrative work, is too high.
Improving exchange and interoperability will lead to more efficiency, less costs, and better patient care.
If you have questions about interoperability and information blocking, let us know.