How Do We Reach Interoperable Harmony?

Make no mistake: we will reach interoperable harmony. The future of healthcare depends on it, and the government mandates it. According to ONC’s Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, an explicit agenda for achieving this goal, we can get there through “increased adoption of critical infrastructure, standards, services and policies. This will eliminate any geographic or organizational systematic boundaries throughout the continuum of care.”

Back in 2014, ONC set forth 3-year, 6-year and 10-year timelines as a plan to connect healthcare organizations around the nation through their EHRs. These detailed agendas lay the foundation for short and long-term goals and milestones based around semantics, data formats, techniques and tracking with the bottom line being a fully connected and interoperable future by the end of the 2020s.

We’ll get to how we reach interoperability in a minute. But first, what exactly do healthcare organizations receive by adopting the forcefully supported healthcare information technology?

Actionable Data

Data, data and more data. Useful data is the driving force behind health IT. We seem to have it all figured out when it comes to how the data is captured and algorithmically organized, but it’s not getting into the right hands at the right time. This is where the rubber meets the road and a solution is inevitable. After weeks, months or years of adherence to data capture and seamless sharing, the benefits to providers – and their patients – will be priceless.

To start: prevented security breaches, eliminated silo workflows and avoided financial repercussions. What’s more, surfacing, transferring and rendering data at any point during the patient journey provides better insight to contribute to better patient outcomes, all while eliminating inefficient waste from organizational revenue streams. This is true interoperable harmony for providers.

Now the BIG question… HOW do we get there?

Currently, we are making headway toward ONC’s goal. There is data analytics or machine learning software designed to affect each department of a healthcare organization. Guidelines through ONC, HL7’s FHIR and SMART on FHIR have been set to provide the roadmap to pure connectivity, granting us the components we need for a successful transition. We have all the pieces in place to make pure interoperability successful, but still the question remains: Now what?

We Integrate.

Obeying the law and compliance regulations is essential for continued adherence, but the road to interoperability is ultimately paved by integration. Specifically, a granular and efficient path to connect multiple technologies within and across healthcare organizations. In other words, compliant communication. Middleware – the software that acts as the bridge between health organizations, technology companies and their software applications – is an integral component for sustaining an interoperable future.

Anything but just another disruption, integration is sustained through a “help me help you” mindset. Both vendors and healthcare organizations must acknowledge the substance that integration provides and how it directly effects patients. Staying compliant and adhering to standards will make sharing secure data possible without the unnecessary red flags, cyber threats or false alerts.

The future of healthcare should not be taken lightly on the provider or tech side of the fence. We may have a ways to go before we’re victoriously riding into the sunset on the interoperability train, but specialized integration platforms are what will get us there.

Seth Hobgood is CTO at Interoptex.