An ideal state for two-way interoperability would be wherein all systems in the U.S. have adopted the industry standards. However, the current scenario is a far cry from what it should be. Digitalization in healthcare has been fairly new and while the industry has been slow to fully adopt health IT, two-way interoperability has suffered because of it.
According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), “Interoperability describes the extent to which systems and devices can exchange data, and interpret that shared data. For two systems to be interoperable, they must be able to exchange data and subsequently present that data such that it can be understood by a user.”
Why do we need two-way interoperability in the first place?
Most medical records, be it demographic data, clinical data, billing data or claims data, are digital but, there still exists the problem of poor interoperability among systems- restricting healthcare organizations from exchanging and extracting meaningful data. Moreover, when it comes to personal health data, there is an increased use of wearables and smartphones tracking patient health data which physicians could use to create a better, comprehensive picture about their patients.
The lack of interoperability doesn’t just mean lack of information or poor access to it. It means repeated and unnecessary medical tests, costly time delays and wasted money.
The EMR systems are still flawed when it comes to sharing data, the lack of which affects several fronts:
- Patients: No matter what barriers, the patient being the ultimate benefactor of healthcare should not suffer on the account of inadequate interoperability. The lack of updated patient information that is accessible across the network makes it difficult to administer overall care.
- Healthcare Organizations: According to this study, only 6% of the providers could effectively access and exchange vital information on a different platform. Providers should be able to collect, access, and exchange data across different platforms to ensure coordinated and timely care.
- Overall Population Health: Around 70% of ACOs struggle with the basic step of collecting and sharing data, making traversing to a value-based ecosystem with data-powered strategies a barrier that can be attributed to the lack of better interoperability standards.
Interoperability between healthcare systems is arguably the primary step in achieving value-based care. It is important that patient data is easily shareable and accessible to patients and providers whenever it is needed. There have to be new measures, new developments, and new tools to ensure timely data sharing, and in turn, seamless care coordination in a world that is shifting towards value-based care.
What does it mean for providers and patients?
If interoperability is looked at as something more than just a “standards-based interaction between computer systems,” it will be easier to understand how exactly it will help providers to make the best use out of it ultimately to benefit the patients. For a faster transition into a patient-centric healthcare system, two-way interoperability is a prerequisite. Besides, it has the following advantages:
- Real-time access to patient information across the network
- Streamlined patient records at the point of care
- Easy identification of gaps in care
- Safer transmission of patient data
- Reduced cost of care
Two-way interoperability ensures that useful information is shared in a timely manner. So, the data from a patient who had a blood test at an earlier date can be used during his next trip to the emergency room, saving the time and cost of doing more and often unnecessary tests. Improved efficiency through greater information sharing saves time and effort for staffers, leading to more cost savings.
Health IT developers, policymakers and providers have several challenges to overcome before true interoperability is achieved. EHRs vendors, if they are willing, can make two-way interoperability possible. Instead of waiting for EHRs to become interoperable, you can still achieve interoperability.
It is important to understand that only integration and interoperability is not enough. Healthcare needs a data platform such as Datashop, that is flexible, agnostic, and highly interoperable in nature. Being agnostic across the board in terms of EHRs or data formats, Datashop, is capable of converting any data, no matter which format or standard it is coming from, into a readable format for your systems.
Datashop offers seamless connectivity with more than 60 EMRs; its numerous dashboards across the network make it easier for providers to scroll through the vast volume of patient data. Standardized communication is made more effective with Datashop as it uses specified set of protocols and standards like HISP, HL7 to send the information across the network, thus, making transmission of data seamless, efficient, and secure.
Datashop summarizes patient details into visually engaging and interactive dashboards that can be shared across the network with standard-based connectivity routes to connect affiliate and authorized clinicians. Also, Datashop has also aligned itself with the Carequality and Commonwell Alliance and offers seamless connectivity with their EHRs as well, promoting nationwide interoperability.
The road ahead
What is the point of making healthcare digitized if the lack of interoperability keeps us crippled all along? Healthcare is flooding with crucial data but how can providers ever leverage that in clinical decision making if there is no way to exchange or access healthcare data? If we plan to make value-based care a reality, we need to plate our trust in a world that thrives with two-way interoperability, and work towards that. We have the data standards, we have the technology, and we have the will. All it needs is the first step towards a standard-based, two-way interoperable world.
To learn how you can kickstart two-way interoperability in your organization or network, get a demo.
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