Interoperability: Connecting the Healthcare

It’s always been a challenge to access and share health data securely. Its nature creates a paradox: sensitivity and the requirement for high privacy and security levels make sharing difficult, yet the accessibility challenges can lead to significant harm.

It’ll be difficult to completely understand a person’s or group’s health needs without interoperability, leading to higher costs and poor outcomes.

What is Interoperability?

In essence, interoperability refers to a healthcare provider’s ability of disparate software, hardware, databases, applications, and other computing elements to connect, share data, and communicate without restrictions, to interpret the data into insights, and use the information.

In healthcare, interoperability refers to the extent to which apps, devices, and health information systems connect throughout a healthcare facility and access, share and use patient data securely.

The term may also refer to hospitals’, clinicians’, private practices’, pharmacies’, labs’, researchers’, and patients’ abilities to efficiently share and use meaningful data for effective healthcare delivery for people, the community, and the entire populace.


Why Does Interoperability Matter?

Interoperability enables efficient access to data; hence you’ll save resources and time. What’s more, a patient will be accompanied with their medical records when moving. Interoperability also results in better patient outcomes. Efficient access to data provides more lead time for appointment preparation and better treatment delivery.

Here are more reasons why interoperability matters:

  • Patients expect their physicians to access complete medical records. When doctors access these insights, they can make informed medical decisions and avoid duplicating procedures or tests.
  • Interoperability is real and is taking place at scale with almost every health records system. National networks have increased exponentially, direct messaging expansion has surpassed ePrescribing growth, and physicians can connect to any care setting.
  • Interoperability services are cutting down administration costs for manual workflows while reducing errors and improving efficiency.
  • EHR inboxes are mostly filled with messages, documents and tasks to handle. Interoperability involves routine filters and rules to minimize the chores, hence mitigating physical burnout.

How Can Clinical Information Be Made Meaningful and Usable?

Clinical data usability refers to the ease, efficiency, and effectiveness of using a piece of software. Your clinical information usability depends on its design and implementation. Once your health records system is up and running, it’s essential to consider the following:

  • Efficient interactions – Clinical data systems that enable efficient interactions usually minimize the steps or clicks required to complete tasks. They also offer navigation options for experienced users to reduce the need for movements like scrolling, clicking the mouse, and switching between clicking and typing.
  • Diminish cognitive workload – Although practitioners take time to navigate their systems, most of them consider clinical data in paper charts more reflective and succinct. However, overly structured capture requirements and lack of context can complicate interpretation. Your system should provide real-time, concise, and context-sensitive data. This calls for sophisticated reporting, data analysis, and decision supporting tools.
  • Promote care coordination – Without robust tracking and full EHR interoperability, it’s hard to transition patient care. Reliable clinical records systems should automatically track consultations, referrals, labs, and orders for doctors to follow a patient’s progress.
  • Support for team-based care – Current tech only requires healthcare providers to perform tasks or enter data that team members should complete. The system maximizes everyone’s productivity concerning state licensure laws and enables appropriate task delegation.
  • Effective data presentation – Interface designs must include visually appealing elements and clear fonts that allow users to consume information easily. What’s more? Abnormal clinical data values and high-value data are presented or highlighted to convey meaning.
  • Consistency – Consistent EHR interfaces have the same feel and look in all parts of the application. Data entry and terminology fields are also placed and used consistently, allowing providers to move seamlessly through workflows.
  • Promote data exchange and interoperability – Data “lock-ins” are common problems. Your EHR system should enable connected health care and facilitate proper data incorporation and exporting. This results in coherent longitudinal data built from different sources.

Enable digital patient engagement – Most EHR systems can’t support digital engagement. However, increased interoperability between patient’s mobile technologies, EHR systems, and telehealth solutions can promote wellness and manage chronic ailments.

What are the Technical Challenges and Solutions?

The immense benefits of interoperability are clear, but you’ll likely encounter the following challenges:

Managing Inconsistent Data Across Various Sources

Providers store various pieces of data in different, disparate locations, and healthcare IT functions waste hours looking for them. The best solution to this is to adopt a single unified interface and network.

Validating Patient Data Electronic Requests

Maintaining the security and privacy of your healthcare data is vital and a legal requirement. But it’s hard to know the right time to process patient data electronic requests. To beat this challenge, you’ll require a trusted party to facilitate communication with the expertise and time to verify that data requests are secure and appropriate.

Organizational Resistance to Data Sharing

Specific industry stakeholders don’t want to share data with other providers. But the law calls for the availability and accessibility of health data to patients and across organizational boundaries. To beat this, remove the consideration on whether to avail data and make it constantly accessible to the appropriate entities.

The Cost of Hiring Interoperability Specialists

Most healthcare staff lack the time or qualification to keep up with daily interoperability tasks. This forces organizations to bear the extra burden of maintaining qualified talent. To avoid the expense, don’t hire a specialist. Instead, seek a specialized platform to help you manage EHR interoperability.

Availing Data Is Now a Requirement

If your healthcare data isn’t readily available as recommended by the Cures Act, you may face the consequences of data blocking. To avoid being reported and paying the fine, export your information to a single location uniformly, then create a web-based portal that grants access to the data storage location.

What Is Clinify Health Doing About Interoperability?

As the nation’s top value-based care enablement agency, Clinify Health focuses on supporting your financial stability and interoperability efforts. The agency offers CareTrax® that works with these coding systems:

Connect with us for more details about how you can ensure interoperability within your healthcare organization.

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