Customer Experience and Design

Winning the Healthcare Information Revolution with Interoperability

Last week I came across this article entitled Top 10 EMR Installation Mistakes by Pete Rivera of Healthcare Informatics. Overall, this was a great list, but I was particularly struck by the second item listed in this top 10:

We deal with this topic a lot in our practice. Many healthcare organizations invest heavily in large EMR systems only to end up with digital information silos where paper based information silos existed before. Healthcare decision makers are left to wonder why they can’t simply rely on the reporting provided through their EMR system. We dealt with this at length in our white paper entitled, “Could EMR Software be Detrimental to Healthcare?

The answer to this problem is interoperability. Interoperability is the ability of two or more components, applications or systems to exchange and use information. In the healthcare industry, interoperability more specifically refers to the ability of healthcare information technology systems and software to not only communicate and exchange data but to use the information being exchanged. The analogy used in our offices most often is interoperability as the digital nervous system of an organization. The backbone transports the standardized messages both to and from the end points and a brain that analyzes the messages traveling through the system. An interoperability solution helps to reduce redundant data entry, speed access to information and create a real-time flow of information through a healthcare information system. The key benefit of creating interoperability is to improve the visibility, sharing and re-use of data collection between disparate healthcare applications and devices – precisely the goal we have for EMR.

Healthcare providers are not realizing that the electronic record system they jumped into based on incentives through meaningful use needs to be fully integrated with financial and operational data sources to be a true value add. Add to this mix the possibility of integrating with partners under ACO, and this oversight could turn into a huge headache down the line. On the other hand, those organizations that realize the value of fully interoperable systems will become the true leaders in this healthcare information revolution.

A big thank you to Nate Osit (@NateOsit) for sending us a link to Fred Trotter’s (@fredtrotter) analysis of interoperability and meaningful use for his upcoming book. Good read.

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