The healthcare industry is making a push for true interoperability that would offer the seamless exchange of healthcare information among clinicians, administrators, patients and other stakeholders.

While various standards and organizations exist to promote data exchange—known by an alphabet soup of acronyms, including HL7, FHIR, DICOM, NCPDP, IEEE and LOINC, among others—physicians still struggle, particularly impeded by a barrage of free text and PDF files that must be manually entered into the electronic health record system, says Dave Lareau, CEO at Medicomp.

Too often, data in various file formats is not actionable, Lareau contends. “It’s up to the recipient to sort through the data sent and find the data they care about for the patient in front of them.”

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Other data may not be accessible across all clinical care settings during a patient encounter, while other information can’t be fully utilized because of a lack of collaboration among providers, payers, government entities, associations and vendors. Many other types of data are generated not to inform clinicians about patient histories but to create transactions that ensure payment for services.

“We must come together to establish a better approach to sharing data for the benefit of patients who deserve better,” Lareau says. He says the electronic health record meaningful use program as a possible example—in that program, the federal government incentivized providers to adopt electronic health record systems with the overall goal of improving patient outcomes. It wasn’t a perfect program, but it worked, because about 90 percent of providers now are using EHRs, he notes.

Now the barrage of data that meaningful use generated needs to be brought under control for clinicians.

The best way for doctors today to represent the status of a patient is to document in text. The way to improve data and information exchange, according to Lareau, is to ensure easier acquisition of data and other health information at the point of care with support from HL7’s continuity of care document along with the FHIR standard for electronic records exchange to enable clinicians to have the information needed to assess a diagnosis and treat the patient.

Medicomp sells software to identify and organize pertinent streams of medical data with actionable information submitted to clinicians at the point of care and within the workflow.

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