Healthcare Interoperability – Barriers, misperceptions & solutions

Improving healthcare interoperability is the topmost priority for any healthcare systems, providers, clinicians, patients, and lawmakers. Even the governmental efforts to address interoperability come from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), which has issued a proposed interoperability and information-blocking rule. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has also finalized the ONC interoperability rule, aiming to provide patients with more control of their health data and to eradicate information blocking.

Earlier attempts to improve interoperability have failed because EHRs used to produce non-standardized, and disparate data. But today, there is a widespread adoption of EHR, with almost 98 percent of health systems using a government-certified EHR. Each of it has its own set of technical specifications, clinical terminologies, and even unique customizations that allows true interoperability and data sharing across systems.

But despite these impressive steps, there are still major operational inefficiencies in sharing and accessing healthcare data. Inefficiency in exchanging healthcare data leads to communication gaps and overlaps between healthcare systems. The costs of inefficient health data exchange can have far more serious consequences, including

  • Missing patient information can lead to poorer patient outcomes, sometimes it can even get worse.
  • Healthcare providers spending much time on entering or searching for patient data don’t have as sufficient time to deliver proper care
  • Operational inefficiencies lead to increased cost of healthcare

Barriers of Healthcare Interoperability

Today’s EMR/EHR systems and the lack of interoperability between the systems generate tremendous amounts of data, but lacks is data analytics and integration. An increase in the number of providers, systems, data sources, and the records collected a huge amount of disparate low-quality data. Which becomes a major contributor to providers discontent and burnout.

Adding to that, the explosion of data from the new technology and online connect —such as wearables, mobile phones, and genomics has intensified the level of problems in interoperability.

Misperceptions about interoperability and insights behind each one

Interoperability is an EHR’s problem

EHR is just a piece of the puzzle, the real challenges of interoperability are three distinct tiers within the healthcare industry that highlight the less-technical barriers to interoperability.

  • The first interoperability tier is the organizational level of healthcare, which impacts the exchange of information within the existing systems.
  • The second tier is the community level of healthcare, where the complexity of interoperability becomes even more extravagant. Here, the exchange of information extends between different organizations.
  • The final and the third tier is the growing number of hardware platforms, operating systems, and communication systems connected to health and healthcare devices — such as “smart” consumer products, personal fitness apps, and sophisticated implantable medical devices.

Vast use of FHIR

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) is the latest healthcare data standard that has created a false hype. Though it will be useful in many areas of innovation emerging in the industry, but that doesn’t mean everyone is using FHIR. It is not the power button to boost and solve all interoperability issues. FHIR it is still a young standard. The health IT industry is still working out the most strategic places to implement FHIR. As new applications come to market and new use cases are tested and rolled-out, FHIR will surely gain real momentum in terms of actual implementations.

Healthcare Interoperability is hard

The biggest interoperability barrier for most organizations is not a lack of solutions, but a lack of resources in terms of time, money, and people. Changing the way organizations prioritize and think about interoperability will help them move from their current circumstances to a place where information exchange is effortless. If hospitals and health systems can think of the long-term benefits of implementing interoperability, they’ll be less likely to run into issues down the road.

Solutions to seamless Interoperability

Interoperability means more than basic connectivity. It must ensure effective, secure, and frictionless data exchange for and among all stakeholders. Providers just have to choose healthcare IT solutions that manage seamless interoperability and provide easy access to the most accurate patient information possible. With patients carrying an increasing share of the healthcare cost burden, providers should focus on interoperability solutions that must play serious on empowering providers and patients with timely access to their data, so they can make better decisions with the lowest burden on their pockets.

Emerging technologies that improves healthcare interoperability

  • Direct Secure Messaging – Direct Secure Messaging is simply a direct message. It is a digital point-to-point solution. Similar to a fax or an email, providers can use Direct Secure Messaging for sending data to other providers who are in need. It is generally used for the provider to provider or patient to provider communication and even for public health reporting. Direct Secure Messaging is an effective way to increase interoperability among the various organizations in a patient’s range of care.
  • Query-based Exchange – Query-based exchange allows organizations to share and access each other’s patient health information according to a reciprocal agreement. Member organizations sign an agreement promising to use the network’s data responsibly and ethically, and in line with HIPAA and other relevant laws, and they are given access to all of the network’s collective data.
  • Healthcare APIs – APIs can help a provider or other healthcare organization unite its various systems and allow data to flow between them—regardless of the data’s format or source. APIs promise to aid in the interoperability of health data exchange across many disparate systems.


With only a few clicks, individuals can access their banking information or explore shopping options or travel access, then why not healthcare information? Healthcare providers and clinicians could gain access to more health information on patients’ medical conditions from other providers to improve on today’s coordinated care. Patients could also more easily obtain and aggregate their data, enabling them to successfully engage in personal care.

iPatientCare’s interoperability, Enterprise Integration Adaptors (EIA) enable you to begin with the real power of EHR interoperability by facilitating standards-based data exchange with other EHR systems, health information exchanges (HIEs), labs, pharmacies, payers, immunization and disease registries, and public health agencies. All these exchanges between healthcare information systems happen accurately and securely within the existing workflow.

To feel the power of true interoperability with iPatientCare’s interoperability. Here is the demo.



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