How successful interoperability begins within
The healthcare industry is undergoing massive modernization, and the first thing to go is the traditional manner of record keeping.
With more ways than ever to track data—from a primary physician, to an Apple watch, even to a hospital across the country—patient information often lives in multiple scattered places. To ensure this data remains accessible no matter where the location, implementing solutions that encourage cohesive and successful interoperability has never been so important.
Yet, the complexities of healthcare data make this near impossible. For example, different care centers may have variations in software that prevent seamlessly translating information from one source to another. It almost seems as though as technology becomes more advanced, the need for interoperability becomes more pressing and yet, sometimes more challenging to achieve.
Interoperability is no longer just a technology that is giving providers an edge against the competition. Without access to all of a patient’s relevant healthcare information, clinicians are not equipped to make the most informed patient decisions.
Ensuring interoperability is crucial, and it starts from the inside out. With a few key steps, organizations can prime themselves to be easily receptive to interoperability.
Ensure software is user friendly and connected in-house. Part of the reason for the digitization of healthcare is for the sake of increasing efficiency, a vital aspect in such a time-sensitive industry. And while the widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHR's) is touted as a huge benefit to providers, this is not always the case.
In fact, a recent survey found that 72 percent of respondents said they believed that their EHR's “ability to decrease workload was lacking,” often because of the lack of being able to integrate all information from a care center’s multiple internal sectors. Ensuring that all internal software is successful in managing information is the first step in preparing for larger scale interoperability.
Upgrade solutions to decrease staffing needs. Many providers still operate on outdated infrastructure that requires manual work to connect data across silos. Not only does this result in an expanded staffing need, but it also takes up a large amount of time on tasks that could easily be automated.
Upgrading to newer solutions that promote integration and interoperability will decrease staffing needs as well as the time needed to facilitate interoperability, freeing up employees to focus on other, more valued-added tasks and increasing efficiency organization-wide.
Always be prepared for change. The needs of an organization are constantly evolving, and software must evolve with it. Perhaps the creation of a new department affects budgeting and billing, or a change in an inventory supplier affects the entire supply chain from contract all the way through use and monitoring. An interoperability strategy must take these changes into account, ensuring that they do not interrupt the ability to send and receive data across systems.
Patients now receive care from multiple locations, and their information can easily be scattered across several systems and organizations. Interoperability is a critical component to help pull this data together and make it available to providers so that they can give proper patient care.
Access to data residing in other organizations, however, is not the only need for successful interoperability—more than 250 mergers were announced in the healthcare sector just in the second quarter of 2018, and this trend will further necessitate the need to successfully combine data from disparate systems and sources.