In the case of healthcare, new software applications, technology systems and cloud-storage solutions are revolutionizing the way that hospitals manage patient care and store medical records. Recently, in HIMSS analytics, EHR interoperability received all the attention as there is lack of information exchange that makes it difficult to maintain revenue cycle for the practices. The analytics study said that the practices and hospitals face the biggest challenge when it comes to denied claims and disparate systems.
Interoperability can be explained in the sense that developing and deploying interfaces that move health information or the process of freely exchanging healthcare information among electronic systems, that boils down to delivering the highest-quality, most efficient care to the patients. To fulfill this, the providers must have the best information available at the point of care when making diagnosis and treatment decisions, and communicating them to the patients.
There are three levels of Interoperability:
- Foundational Interoperability – enables one information system to exchange data with another. The system at the receiving end does not need to interpret the data; it is instantly available.
- Structural Interoperability – defines the format of the data exchange so that the operational or clinical purpose of the information is evident and passes through without alteration.
- Semantic Interoperability – is the highest level of connection. It lets medical providers share patient data even while using different EHR software solutions from the vendors. The technology has matured in many ways that the data is able to flow between most certified EHR technologies. But still the providers spend enough time trying to manage working with different EHR interface. The providers are likely to change their order and treatment protocols a few times at the point of care. Therefore, it is very important to have tools, available at the point of care. Although the EHR cannot prioritize worklist, the EHR interface can make it available to the providers at the point of care, enabling them to take proper action for high-risk patients.
The integration often does not happen due to numerous objections. For e.g. The EHR integration requires EHR access to test and configure the interface to enable the availability of worklists and any other alerts. This limited access sometimes raises concerns. Not any software code access is required and protection can be put in place to assure an EHR vendor. The health systems manage access to the third party tools without fear of violating contracts. A survey said that there is a struggle to collect data as there is increase in number of specialists and out-of-network providers who are unable to convey data back to the initial ACO provider.
There are lot of gaps when it comes to social determinants of health, activity based costing data; due to lack of interoperability. When all the information about the patients is not available it becomes difficult to administer and coordinate overall care.
Adaption of interoperability in the digital health technologies will allow for faster, and more accurate collection and interpretation of public health data. Recognizing, tracking, and predicting the spread of contagious ailments can limit their spread, enabling better preparation and increasing the effectiveness of the treatment.
This technology will reduce the time spent by the providers to interpret the data. There is no need to send, receive patient data through email or fax. This reduces workload of front-desk staff too. Interoperability sounds all well and good but it is time-consuming to implement it.
While it is very useful to the providers, Interoperability also helps patient’s medical records to follow through the health care system. Easy and fast access of medical records will help the patients to receive better quality of care. This speedy transfer of information has a real impact on the patient’s health, as many conditions require immediate intervention to save the patient’s life or minimize long-term effects on their health.
Integration is the first step towards providing these services. These services help us move towards a more holistic view of patients and constituents, a position that has been repeatedly proven to improve outcomes. Secondly, collaboration; interoperability empowers sharing of data and analysis in contemporary ways that will assist from duplicate efforts and be efficient to take more actions towards collaborative solutions.
Interoperability in healthcare is a must, it affects the social sector and by focusing on collaborative solutions, integrated services and interoperable systems, can help take charge of this trend and use these benefits for the patients being served. iPatientCare has created functionalities and processes to enable integration with the third party vendors without creating any technical burdens.
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