Improved EHR Interoperability Through Common Data Model

Author: Matt Garnese | October 24th, 2017 | Improved EHR Interoperability Through Common Data Model

The American Medical Association (AMA) launched a new platform recently, the Integrated Health Model Initiative (IHMI), which they say will help the healthcare industry move closer to a common model for organizational health data and pave the way to improving interoperability in healthcare.

Interoperability is especially important in the Electronic Health Records (EHR) industry, because it enables communication among different EHRs, medical devices, and third-party applications, and facilitates better patient care.

How Increased Interoperability Improves Healthcare

Essentially, interoperability satisfies the need for communication and coordination across different healthcare systems. John Quackenbush, a computational biologist at Harvard’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute, said the following in an interview with Healthcare IT News: “The challenge is that when we really look at what data is available, often the data is incomplete or inaccessible or not in a readily usable format.”

As Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO John Halamka, MD, has joked, most EHRs relay precision medicine data using “highly interoperable standard for such material called ‘PDF.'”

In a recent article published by Healthcare IT News, James L. Madara, CEO of the AMA, has the following to say about the need for a common data model in healthcare: “We spend more than $3 trillion a year on healthcare in America and generate more health data than ever before. Yet some of the most meaningful data—data to unlock potential improvements in the patient outcome—is fragmented, inaccessible or incomplete.”

According to the article, the IHMI platform intends to give healthcare providers a common structure to collect, organize, and exchange the most important patient data to improve healthcare and long-term wellness, transforming that raw data into useful and actionable information.

Interoperability Standards For EHR Systems

In theory, EHR interoperability leads to improved healthcare decisionmaking, analytics, and information management, which in turn drives greater efficiency in data structuring and interoperability among EHR systems, medical applications, and facilities. This increased communication and coordination among healthcare systems reduce the cost of care for patients by lowering the computer network costs for the medical provider.

According to, interoperability standards for EHR systems should focus on the following four areas:

  • How applications interact with users (such as e-prescribing)
  • How systems communicate with each other (such as messaging standards)
  • How information is processed and managed (such as health information exchange)
  • How consumer devices integrate with other systems and applications (such as tablet PCs)

Further Steps To Take To Drive Interoperability

The AMA’s promotion of the IHMI is an important move to further interoperability in that it is increasing communication among different healthcare organizations on the subject. Organizations like the American Medical Informatics Association, IBM, Intermountain Healthcare, and SNOMED International have already joined the IHMI, and any other healthcare stakeholders are also invited to participate.

The medical community and EHR software manufacturers will continue to share ideas and identify areas for improvement, and you can help. Notifying your EHR provider about your experience with the software is a great way to influence the conversation about interoperability. For example, if you have any product feedback ideas related to PrognoCIS EHR, feel free to visit our product feedback page.

We make regular enhancements to our EHR, and these are often driven by specific customer requests, for example, many of the hardware interfaces included in PrognoCIS, such as the Health-O-Meter Scale, and ProBP Blood Pressure Reader have been integrated to meet customer needs. If you would like to request a connection to a particular Health Information Exchange (HIE), or clinical hardware device, we urge you to open a support case. With your input, we can drive further progress in creating a more interoperable EHR.