EHR Interoperability – Why is it Important?

June 14th, 2019 - By Mandy Chilson

Interoperability, the ability of Health Information Exchange (HIE) between various systems, devices and applications benefits both, providers and patients. Interoperability within an electronic healthcare record (EHR) creates enhanced patient care. In the current scenario, not every EHR allows quick and easy exchange of information. This creates gaps in sharing valuable patient information (past illness, medication) for the highest quality of care. The efficiency of healthcare systems declines without open communication with each other.

Thankfully, you can overcome this problem by embracing EHR systems that allow connectivity between healthcare systems. With interoperability, you can greatly improve the quality of care, boost the efficiency of your practice, and receive incentives through the CMS Promoting Interoperability Program.

What is EHR Interoperability?

EHR interoperability refers to the digital health record systems’ ability to openly communicate with each other, allowing providers to access and exchange patient healthcare information. The systems must process the data and present the information in an easily accessible manner to qualify as truly interoperable.

The Office of the National Coordinator (ONS) diligently works alongside standards development organizations (SDOs) to develop consistent interoperability standards amongst various healthcare systems. They have created a number of helpful guidelines that ensure the systems can speak to each other and present the data in a user-friendly manner.

Unfortunately, despite the creation of these standards, the vast majority of EHR systems in use today do not allow practices to share patient records with ease. Instead, they must exchange information through fax and other archaic methods — or cycle through more than a dozen standalone systems. At the average hospital, for example, providers have to tap into 16 distinct EHR systems to retrieve information and update their patients’ records.

Interoperability would change all that by allowing everyone in the healthcare industry to openly communicate with each other in operating their clinics and caring for their patients. The system would also give patients better access to their health data.

Related Article: Why EMR Interoperability is Important?

How Can Practices Benefit From EHR Integration?

With industrywide EHR interoperability, all clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities could access and update their patients’ full medical records. Sections of the patients’ records would no longer remain veiled behind the standalone systems. They can easily exchange health information data from within the clinical workflow and at the point of care.

Through EHR integration, healthcare providers would no longer have to go the extra mile in retrieving or updating these records. With just a few clicks of a button, each patient’s records would quickly populate and display the vital information needed to make wise healthcare decisions. This information could be then shared with other healthcare providers, labs and pharmacies. The accessibility of patient data by various providers through Interoperability greatly helps the movement of patients between different healthcare facilities.

Also Read: Is EHR Interoperability Possible with a National Patient Identifier?

Healthcare systems can together provide a holistic view of patient data, promoting value-based care. In fact, studies show that interoperability has the power to cut hospitals’ costs by eliminating redundancies and readmission through improved communication. Eventually, it helps achieve improved care coordination, patient safety, and positive patient outcome.

Interoperability creates incentives for healthcare practices through the Promoting Interoperability Program offered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). As you use interoperability to benefit your patients, your clinic will receive payments from CMS for as long as you adhere to the program guidelines.

Related Article: Net Neutrality’s Impact on Interoperable Healthcare Solutions

How is Interoperability Achieved in an EHR system?

Leaders in the health tech industry have introduced EHR systems with interoperability at the forefront of their design. With their progressive software, your practice can seamlessly send and retrieve health data as needed to care for your patients.

The data moves between the systems while abiding by the guidelines created by SDOs, such as:

  • Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR): Protocols for exchanging care data at the clinic and administrative levels
  • Health Level 7 (HL7): Standard controlling the exchange of data through the v2 messaging system
  • Health Relationship Trust (HEART): Profiles that allow patients to control access to their healthcare data

By following these guidelines, effective interoperable EHR systems achieve all of their amazing feats behind the scenes. They accomplish this goal through the use of application programming interfaces, or APIs. With these APIs, the system creates a portal of information unique to each patient and accessible by all the healthcare providers who attend to that patient.

They can easily exchange health information data from within the clinical workflow and at the point of care.

Learn how  PrognoCIS helps achieve interoperability solutions for success in clinical, financial, and patient outcomes. Contact Us today.

You can easily get started in improving the interoperability of your practice with PrognoCIS EHR software. Give our team a call at 1-877-693-6748 to learn more.

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