“Interoperability” is a word that is gaining popularity now that more and more healthcare providers are using EMR software. As is the case with many things in healthcare, most decision makers seem to agree that it’s necessary, but few agree on how to achieve it.
HealthIT.gov states that “EHR Interoperability…improves the delivery of health care by making the right data available at the right time to the right people.”
The site defines EHR software interoperability standards as including four areas of EHR technology:
How applications interact with users (such as e-prescribing)
How systems communicate with each other (such as secure messaging standards)
How information is processed and managed (such as health information exchange)
How consumer devices integrate with other systems and applications (such as tablet PCs)
The general meaning of interoperability is being able to share medical information as needed between various IT systems and products to improve patient care. An example of this could be a Physician remotely viewing PACS images securely from an Electronic Medical Records system.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
Sadly, in the world of modern healthcare, most organizations don’t understand how this is achieved, and many of those who have it implemented have a very fragmented approach.
It is expected that the healthcare IT industry is going to solve the problem, however there is no roadmap to achieving the aforementioned goals. As it stands, the onus falls on EHR vendors along with others in the industry. As with most things, individualized, fragmented solutions may work for a while, but are not sustainable in the long term.
What does Interoperability mean to me?
That depends. Some will be left behind as a result of not adopting new technologies, or perhaps lack of diligence. Others will likely either achieve interoperability through trial and error, or muddling through piecemeal solutions they can develop on their own.
For those willing to invest the resources and time, there is no doubt that this can be a game changer. In a world where almost everyone has a smartphone or tablet (and have direct connectivity to just about anything) why wouldn’t we be able to access healthcare with the same ease we can order a pizza?
EHR Interoperability…improves the delivery of health care by making the right data available at the right time to the right people. – HealthIT.gov
Is your practice able to exchange information electronically with other providers and institutions? Let us know what your experience has been in the comments box.