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Areas of Improvement for EHR Interoperability

October 11, 2021 - by Parul Saini, Webmedy team

There is nothing wrong to say that year 2020 was full of surprises for all the Industries, especially for the healthcare industry. The arrival of coronavirus showed how digital solutions are important for the healthcare industry to solve the challenges they are facing today.

Digital technologies have taken center stage, and they are here to stay with us. Over the last few years, Healthcare is gone under tremendous digital transformation spurred by federal efforts to eliminate paper-based clinical practices and improve care delivery.

The ability of the healthcare industry to effectively utilize digital technologies to deliver better care. No technology is more indicative of and critical to this digital transformation than the electronic health record (EHR), a technology that gives structure to clinical data and fuels analytics necessary for future quality improvement.

Why is EHR Interoperability Important?

EHR interoperability is the ability to effectively communicate health information electronically. There are two fundamental components of this. The first one is the ability to securely transport the data and the second one is the ability to interpret and use that data.

What you need to understand is the importance of interoperability for you. As a member of the healthcare ecosystem, you know that there are several possible reasons for sharing a patient's healthcare information between various providers. For instance, a patient may need to see a specialist at a different practice; they may have test results sent from a lab; they may have a medical emergency requiring Electronic Records - all of these are situations where interoperability is important. Interoperability will allow care facilities and providers to share the patient's records in real-time, without compromising patient security or privacy. It allows for patients to receive the best care possible, from multiple providers, no matter where they are. Providers, patients, and insurers all benefit from increased access to the patient's medical information.

Interoperability is usually an afterthought when selecting an EHR, even though it should be at the forefront of the provider or practice manager's checklist of requirements for an EHR system.

Areas of Improvement for EHR Interoperability

It's clear that increased interoperability is needed in the health care industry - lower costs, better care, increased efficiency and more will almost certainly result from interoperability's continued growth.

As healthcare organizations move from relatively unsophisticated patient portals to newer forms of engagement, they open the door for new companies and technologies to become part of their digital environments particularly for post-acute care, population health, and chronic disease management which require tailored approaches to care for patients outside the hospital's four walls.

  • Patient Directed

    New regulations like the 21st Century Cares Act are aimed at increasing patient access to their data, and creating more informed and cared-for patients is the ultimate goal. However, if providers aren't prepared and knowledgeable about how to comply with these standards, they could be in for a nasty surprise in the form of penalties. Entering 2022, providers looking to increase interoperability must be aware of the steps they'll need to take to do it the right way and with a patient-focused mindset.

  • Patient Data Access

    As patients demand more access to their data, modern forms of providing that access must be considered. Moving into 2022, patients will look to be able to access their records in a variety of ways, including real-time access using their smartphones. Security also needs to be a key consideration. While patients will relish this ease of access, they could also be hindered or turned away completely if they don't feel the process is airtight.

  • EHR-to-EHR Communication

    While EHR-to-EHR communication is the most common of the four pillars, this communication is often still lagging. Internal EHR capabilities are getting votes of confidence around the country, but the sharing of data between parties is still limping along.

As more and more tools become available at the point of care, they have the potential to lead to measurable outcomes that tilt in a positive direction. Interoperability in healthcare will continue to evolve and improve as new advancements in technology are made. For the healthcare industry to move forward, clinical data needs to flow freely across networks. For this reason, healthcare organizations need IT systems and software applications that communicate and exchange patient data efficiently and securely, using the latest healthcare data interoperability principles.

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