Interoperability in Health Care
Although modern technology has given health care organizations faster and more accurate access to patient data, improvements are still necessary to provide patients with the highest levels of care they deserve. Because some health care organizations utilize different software applications and various security parameters for electronic health records (EHRs), finding the most effective solutions to integrate these systems remains one of the industry’s most significant challenges.
Even though hospitals have routine access to patient medical records from other organizations, many are not integrating the data they receive into their systems. Finding an optimal solution to improve interoperability is vital for maintaining your organization’s operating efficiency and accountability.
What Is Health Care Interoperability?
Interoperability in health care refers to the capability of two or more computer software applications to cooperatively share patient data and use the information meaningfully and consistently. Successful interoperability involves providing seamless and timely access to information that allows providers to deliver safe and effective care. Interoperability improvements have become priorities for many health care operations, such as emergency room facilities, primary care offices and rehabilitative practices.
Health Care Interoperability Challenges
Although the benefits of improving interoperability are limitless, achieving them remains far-reaching for organizations across the board. Some specific challenges facing many organizations include:
- Interpreting inconsistent information across diverse platforms: Health care providers in large networks often fail to organize imported patient data properly, causing information technology (IT) departments to spend countless hours searching for relevant information and relocating it.
- Validating electronic requests: Because legislation like the Cures Act prevents health care organizations from blocking critical patient information, many organizations rely on their EHR software to initiate transmission approval, putting patient privacy and security of the patient at risk.
- Resisting data sharing: Despite the laws mandating patient data sharing, some health care organizations fail to transmit the necessary information, whether from their competitive nature, a lack of sufficient software or unqualified personnel handling the request.
- Managing interoperability costs: Some organizations solve their interoperability challenges by hiring a dedicated internal team to complement their IT departments, increasing operational costs and adding salaries on top of an already stretched budget.
Improving Interoperability in Health Care
Improving health care interoperability involves taking an innovative approach to communication and information access. Several strategies for addressing industry challenges include:
- Using a dedicated network: Employing a single network and interface across your entire organization helps you better organize patient data and eliminate lengthy searches for information.
- Defining a method for handling patient information requests: Because the Cures Act can involve requirements that some EHR systems cannot meet, establishing an efficient and accurate process for sharing information with other organizations is necessary for compliance.
- Partnering with a reputable IT provider: Working with an experienced and professional IT provider like MicroHealth saves you the time of locating and organizing your data and removes the salaries associated with hiring additional IT employees.
Connect With the Experts at MicroHealth Today
At MicroHealth, we offer electronic health system (EHS) design capabilities, software integration, system implementation and other health care-specific services to government practices. Our knowledgeable and experienced staff features former or current professionals at various levels, from practice administrators to nurses to physician associates and doctors. Contact us online today to learn more about our services and how they can benefit your organization.
The interoperability of health information systems is much more important than most of us realize. The more we can do to help out the better. And it all starts with knowing more about the challenges the health system as a whole is facing right now.
WOW! I hadn’t the slightest idea that a CT scan can produce as much as 10GB of data! I can only imagine what kind of storage problems you could have when you have thousands of CT scans! Couldn’t this data have a smaller dimension?
That’s why there TONS of health IT positions dedicated to organizing and protecting that data!
Lack of IT education is one of the biggest challenges to interoperability. Unfortunately, hospital executives are often not considering anything else besides their hospital’s need. If they saw things from a larger perspective and focused on making things better for every hospital not just theirs, many good things would happen. And it is clear that executives should undergo some form of IT education so they are prepared for the many problems which will eventually arise. This should be mandatory in our day and age.
You’re right! Hopefully it will be one of those issues that resolves itself with education, like you said, and time.
I hate legal barriers! I mean, if people are trying to save life wouldn’t it be normal that everyone could contribute and make things simpler instead of more complex? It’s like we love putting roadblocks in front of useful things that others are doing. Instead of uniting, humankind is dividing.