Healthcare interoperability is the ability of medical systems to store, exchange and use electronic health records to deliver care to patients. When healthcare IT was in its nascent stages, numerous custom healthcare solutions providers developed competing EMR systems. They did so using different programming languages, with each one having different ideas about the approach to developing the systems.
As a result, data interoperability in healthcare among varying systems became a major problem. This problem was exacerbated when health tech evolved, and the purview of interconnected health systems to facilitate Electronic Data Exchange broadened. In light of this, healthcare IT systems needed to rise to the occasion and evolve for exchanging data between devices and other systems. If they’re able to do so without hassle, it helps clinicians make informed decisions faster and deliver better care.
But interoperability in healthcare is easier said than done. Developing interoperability solutions in healthcare is a challenge even for experienced software programmers. Furthermore, pertinent myths associated with healthcare interoperability also make it difficult for some providers to accept bridging solutions. Here are some of the misconceptions –
5 Common Myths About Interoperability In Health Care
1. It’s a Passing Trend and Doesn’t Mean Anything
While trends usually last a few years and disappear when something new comes around, healthcare data interoperability stays. Moreover, it is already growing to become a subindustry within healthcare IT. The National Office for Health Information Technology has declared it the biggest problem hindering efficiency in healthcare. Interoperability standards in healthcare have pushed numerous medical software companies to develop innovative solutions for it. If providers can exchange patient data faster, they can collaborate seamlessly to achieve better clinical outcomes. The ability of providers across different geographic locations to deliver collaborative care is a big win in the struggle against rare and chronic diseases.
Additionally, when third-party solutions can integrate with different EMR systems, they make way for integrated healthcare systems, which have been known to improve the quality of care.
The latest clinical technologies like mhealth, appointment scheduling, and healthcare automation for medical coding,medical billing, and RPM can have a greater impact with smooth healthcare interoperability solutions. For these reasons, healthcare data interoperability is not a passing trend but a rapidly growing market.
2. Sharing Data Will Hurt Provider Revenues
This is less a myth and more a fear that stems from inevitable competitiveness. Clinical interoperability in healthcare allows for collaborative care management, which, as mentioned above, improves the overall patient experience, and it also broadcasts the message that you’re a good physician for referrals. If you’re a provider who’s open to interoperability in healthcare systems, it makes it easier for other doctors to refer patients to you. That is not going to hurt revenues. Experts also agree that a group of doctors sharing data has greater leverage in negotiating payer agreements when credentialing.
Furthermore, the one thing that providers must keep in mind is that the patient data doesn’t belong to them, and it belongs to the patients themselves. This fear of losing revenues stems from the assumed ownership of people’s health information. Patients alone have the right to choose. Besides, if patients feel like they have had a good experience at a hospital or clinic, they’re unlikely to go elsewhere. And that is possible because of seamless, integrated care management, made possible by interoperability in healthcare technology. So, whatever fears that health data interoperability might bring, the onus of quality care still lies with the providers.
3. Providers Can Only Refer Patients to Other Providers Using the Same EMR
EMR solutions developers don’t build their software to create siloes. The need for different health systems to exchange data is the lifeblood of healthcare interoperability software development. Providers can refer patients to other providers who use different EHR software.
Moreover, since medical records management requires the latest test results and diagnostics to be updated into EMRs, interoperability for healthcare also helps the clinical staff. The ability of patient data to be used amongst varying systems goes a long way in promoting effective population health management.
4. Hospitals Are The Best At Healthcare Interoperability
It is natural to feel that way since hospitals see several patients every day. However, when you stop to consider the sheer size of the United States and the population distribution, it might surprise you to know that most of the patient data is collected in smaller practices and clinics.
Those are where most of the doctor-patient interaction happens and benefit most from patient engagement systems and clinical data analytics. So, it stands to reason that these settings derive the most value from healthcare data interoperability by HIPAA compliance.
Timely access to patient data across different health systems enables providers outside urban locations to deliver effective care. Advances in cloud computing in healthcare have made it possible for providers to develop clinical analytics solutions for outpatient settings. These platforms have further improved outcomes for all stakeholders involved. So, although it’s counter-intuitive, hospitals aren’t the biggest market for interoperability healthcare IT.
5. One Standard Can Be the Solution For Interoperability Challenges in Healthcare
Health Level Seven International (HL7) comes to mind when talking about healthcare interoperability standards. But it’s not just one standalone format but a foundation for developing appropriate tools for interoperability. Open-source software has also allowed developers to make EMRs more adaptive to future requirements in healthcare interoperability. Standards such as C-CDA, CRS, and CCD have grown in popularity.
The evolution of the medical industry is closely linked to how well it can foster efficient healthcare interoperability. It allows providers to collaborate better and empowers healthcare analytics solutions to look for actionable insights. In addition to this, being able to exchange health information accelerates medical research, care management, and drug development.
In other words, there is no future for health IT without solutions for rapid, seamless interoperability.