Is Healthcare Interoperability as Important as Everyone Says?
Healthcare technology has evolved over the years to incorporate various systems, databases, devices, applications, and procedures. Medical professionals continue to use new information technology in nursing, learning, patient engagement, management, and other operations.
It enhances patient welfare and operating efficiency while cutting additional treatment expenses. Interoperability is one such information technology used in modern healthcare systems. It is critical for the planned digital advancements in healthcare to establish a patient-to-customer interface and facilitate better treatment.
Interoperability in healthcare provides data-driven insights, better decision-making, and streamlined processes to improve patient experiences and use it to impact the customer’s journey. So, let’s understand healthcare interoperability, its importance, challenges, and potential solutions in detail below.
What is Healthcare Interoperability?
Healthcare Interoperability is the health information exchange between two or more systems to enable smart decision-making in the healthcare sector. It is the capacity of various information systems, devices, and software (systems) to access, share, consolidate, and collaboratively use data in a synchronized approach inside and beyond organizational, regional, and national borders.
This information exchange aims to provide rapid and smooth accessibility while maximizing individual and communal welfare worldwide. Healthcare interoperability provides better quality care and improved access to information, enabling health systems to provide cost-effective healthcare services.
Data may be retrieved and shared securely throughout all pertinent contexts in the healthcare services. Thanks to health data exchange frameworks, application interfaces, and protocols, it is actively carried out with the relevant participants, including the individual.
Data interoperability is essential for transforming healthcare into a more unified and comprehensive system. That’s why interoperability has gained prominence over the years in the healthcare sector.
Why Is Healthcare Interoperability Important?
Health information technology systems following the United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) version 1 standard may communicate data, including demographics, vital signs, smoking status, prescriptions, test findings, clinical notes, allergies, sensitivities, and much more. But what is the need to exchange data in the first place?
Healthcare interoperability is essential to ensure that healthcare providers have access to the patient’s medical histories, allowing them to make sound decisions about patient care. Healthcare providers can use accurate and up-to-date information to provide good-quality treatments.
Further interoperability guarantees that patient data is correctly exchanged throughout the organizations to increase efficiency, reduce unnecessary diagnostic testing, and boost collaboration among referring physicians and specialists.
Additionally, interoperability can enhance medical research to improve a patient’s deteriorating health. Using interoperable formats for real-world data provides researchers with new and better alternatives.
For instance, if real-world data is interoperable, it may be utilized for large-scale observational research at the regional, national, and international levels. Such inquiries could acknowledge epidemiological issues and public health concerns, in particular, by providing current insights on illness frequency and recurrence, normal patient treatment paths, or inadequacies in healthcare.
Although interoperability has been a watchword in digital healthcare communities for many years, it is only now that the information systems’ significance is recognized across regional and national boundaries. It has raised awareness concerning the implementation of healthcare interoperability and its benefits in medical institutions.
How Does Healthcare Interoperability Help Patients And Doctors?
Patient records continue to rely on the forms filled out by patients. As a result, misinterpretation and discrepancies contaminate EHRs. Health professionals cannot access patients’ information, and many patients seeking care are not correctly matched to their records.
This lack of HIT interoperability can seriously affect the patient’s health and care. Additionally, manual data entry blunders might jeopardize a patient’s health and safety. The need for a comprehensive electronic health record (EHR) system is evident.
Healthcare interoperability technologies are improving the overall coordination and patient care delivery. Interoperability solutions in healthcare, for example, may remove time-consuming procedures such as processing patient admission information, coordinating treatment across teams, updating medical records, and even consolidating data for research.
Healthcare interoperability comes with many benefits to carrying out effective patient treatment. Let’s discuss it below.
What Are The Benefits Of Healthcare Interoperability?
Interoperability is projected to deliver several benefits to patients and healthcare providers. By allowing secure patient data exchange among healthcare providers, interoperability helps reduce or eliminate the costly and time-consuming process of manually entering records into multiple systems. Healthcare interoperability has many benefits for patients and doctors alike. Here they are:
- Faster Diagnosis and Treatment
Healthcare interoperability allows doctors and patients to identify potential health problems quickly, reducing the time to get a diagnosis and treatment plan. Interoperability enables firms to examine data trends and create data-driven alterations in patient care and related domains. Access to comprehensive patient information improves treatment continuity, especially in challenging cases. Practitioners may swiftly follow up with patients, making referrals or reinforcing things from their treatment plan. Interoperability also allows for safer care transitions, leading to better patient outcomes.
- Reduced Errors and Communication Breakdowns
Doctors may obtain a patient’s critical health information with information access, resulting in fewer repetition tests, unintended therapy interactions, and reduced communication breakdowns.
- Enhanced Experience
Data interoperability in healthcare minimizes the repetitive administrative labor both within and outside of businesses, resulting in good patient and medical professional experience.
- Reduced Cost Curve
Sharing information saves time and effort. Healthcare professionals and patients save money on obsolete systems, unnecessary lab tests, and other expenses by exchanging relevant information.
Patient outcomes, care delivery, and financial profitability improve when interoperability solutions are implemented across a health system.
Interoperability solutions in healthcare provide physicians with the required information to coordinate better treatment while lowering patient healthcare expenses.
- The Rise of Health Information Exchanges (FHIR)
As health, IT, and electronic health records (EHRs) were plagued by interoperability issues, FHIR emerged in 2014 as a proposal benchmark for interoperability usage, allowing health IT developers to build applications for EHRs quickly and swap and extract data from applications.
FHIR frameworks are based on the resources, which are fundamental interoperability units and modular components combined into workable systems to address clinical, administrative, and infrastructure issues in healthcare.
FHIR provides software development resources for patients, providers, organizations, equipment, and clinical ideas such as problems, drugs, diagnostics, treatment plans, and financial difficulties.
In contrast to HL7’s most regularly used formal, FHIR is a web-based protocol that provides ample resources and foundations based on XML, JSON, HTTP, AToM, and OAuth frameworks. The tools are employed to increase interoperability and obtain resource information.
FHIR is a data exchange standard used in mobile phone apps, cloud communications, EHR-based data exchange, and among institutional medical providers.
The National Coordinator for Health IT in the United States has included FHIR as a critical component of the country’s interoperability strategy. New government laws and interoperability guidelines require the application of FHIR in the healthcare sector.
Therefore, healthcare companies must understand and implement FHIR into their interoperability strategies, particularly those that receive reimbursements for Medicare or Medicaid services. By understanding and properly implementing FHIR, healthcare organizations can ensure to comply with current government regulations and policies.
Healthcare Interoperability solutions
Concerned about the sensitivity of health data and security risks, industry CIOs and executives feel the underlining need to comply with EHR interoperability solutions to maximize healthcare results. EHR interoperability solutions are also the most relevant software among health providers.
Integrated healthcare solutions can revolutionize the whole system to accelerate complicated tasks, increase productivity, and improve the patient experience. New technical solutions, such as enhanced telehealth solutions, healthcare interoperability, virtual patient monitoring systems, and others, have been introduced.
Furthermore, healthcare data management, collaboration, and analysis are vital for excellent treatment. Presently, electronic health and medical records are two systems required in the healthcare industry.
Caregivers’ attention has shifted to the patient experience while transitioning from conventional care roles to value-based healthcare. Healthcare interoperability technical solutions attempt to improve the organization’s care coordination and patient interface systems.
These systems also promote evidence-based practices and population health management to improve quality and reduce healthcare expenses.
However, certain challenges inhibit the utility of healthcare interoperability. Let’s discuss it below in detail.
Overcoming Challenges to Achieve Full Healthcare Interoperability
Obtaining healthcare interoperability solutions improves patient outcomes. However, several EHR interoperability issues impede its successful deployment in the healthcare industry.
These include privacy and security issues concerning patient data utilization, technical complexity due to a lack of standardization, data quality, and integrity concerns due to miscommunication between different healthcare systems, and difficulties interpreting data from various sources. Look at the following for a better understanding:
- Proprietary communication and linguistic standards prevent communication between various EHRs.
- Managing contradictory information from many sources.
- Validating electronic patient information requests.
- Overcoming organizational opposition to data exchange.
- The high expense of recruiting interoperability specialists.
- Availability of real-time data.
- Availability of several software systems with various data standards.
How To Put Interoperability Solutions Into Place
Healthcare Interoperability solutions require careful planning and implementation to ensure success. Understanding the various software systems and data standards available to meet business goals is important.
Once this understanding is established, organizations should identify potential interoperability solutions to allow data exchange between the systems. Organizations should evaluate the cost and benefits of each solution with scalability and security to facilitate successful interoperability.
Organizations should also consider how the interoperability solution will integrate with their existing system. They can gain insight into the best ways to integrate and exchange data between different systems by understanding business needs, software systems, data standards, and interoperability solutions.
Using this systematic approach, organizations can make an informed decision about the most suitable interoperability solution.
To Sum Up!
Today, healthcare interoperability is critical in assisting physicians with enhanced efficiency and seamless data interchange for better patient outcomes. It also aids predictive analysis by providing information about the patient’s current condition and enabling data-driven decision-making.
Healthcare interoperability enables compliance, performance, and safety software to support quality monitoring, safety and incident reporting, vendor background checks, authentication, training, and policy reviews. All of these initiatives are built on interoperability.
Ultimately, healthcare interoperability provides the means for hospitals and other health organizations to securely communicate with each other, exchange information between systems, and ensure that patient data is accessible in real-time when it is needed.