The Relevance Of Healthcare Interoperability Platforms
Technological advances over the past several years have resulted in an increased digitization of healthcare. Patients, as well as healthcare providers, have become dependent on the use of technology to store and exchange information with relevant parties. The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in March 2010 has further accelerated this trend as the use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to store and exchange patient information is now a legal requirement rather than being optional.
At present, multiple EHRs exist offering healthcare providers and facilities choices regarding their preferred means of electronic data exchange. However, most EHRs have differing standards with the result that they are unable to easily communicate with each other; this can hinder the exchange of health information between patients and healthcare providers. Interoperability between EHRs is therefore necessary to facilitate the free flow of health information.
What is healthcare interoperability
Healthcare interoperability is the ability of disparate electronic health systems to communicate with each other and exchange health information. This exchange of information occurs notwithstanding the type of healthcare facility or data format used by the various EHRs.
The United States Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is a strong proponent of healthcare interoperability. In April 2018, CMS renamed its meaningful use program to “promoting interoperability.” Some important measures in this program include the easy electronic exchange of data among healthcare professionals, data exchange between clinics and public health agencies, as well as information exchange with patients.
There are three levels of healthcare interoperability to be considered in the exchange of data between electronic health systems:
- Foundational interoperability: This is the most basic level of interoperability. At this level, data can be exchanged between disparate electronic systems, but one or more of the systems lack the ability to interpret the data exchanged. This data may have to be manually downloaded or transferred to software for interpretation.
- Structural interoperability: This is the intermediate level of healthcare interoperability. Data exchange at this level occurs when there is an agreement regarding the format of the data being exchanged. This standardization of data format allows for the interpretation of the data being exchanged since the relevant electronic systems are able to recognize the data format.
- Semantic interoperability: This is the highest level of healthcare interoperability. In addition to data exchange and interpretation, the electronic system is able to utilize the data to develop meaningful conclusions that aid in the health management of a patient.
Benefits of healthcare interoperability
Healthcare interoperability confers several benefits to individual healthcare facilities and to the United States healthcare system as a whole. Some of these benefits include:
- Reduced costs: Electronic data exchange of patient’s information can lead to a reduction in costs because it minimizes or eliminates the duplication of tests. The transfer of test results from one facility to other relevant facilities negates the need for the other facilities to perform the same test; this can result in significant savings.
- Data analytics: Data shared freely between healthcare facilities can be collated for statistical and analytical purposes. This can be used to study health trends, develop health initiatives, as well as monitor important public health concerns.
- Patient safety: Healthcare interoperability enhances patient safety because providers are able to access to all the information they need to make optimal healthcare decisions for the patient. Healthcare interoperability reduces the risk of patient misdiagnosis as a result of the healthcare provider not being fully aware of a patient’s condition, especially if the patient had visited several other facilities in the past.
What are healthcare interoperability platforms
Interoperability platforms are software solutions that make it possible for electronic health systems to communicate and share data with each other. Development of these platforms in-house can be a costly and time-intensive endeavor due to the complexities involved in integrating the different data standards for the various EHR vendors. For this reason, it is preferable to utilize third-party services capable of establishing and maintaining interoperability across different electronic health platforms.
At Interoptex, we offer a customizable, API-enabled solution that simplifies data integration. Our subscription-based Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS) is second to none. We can integrate widely used data formats including, but not limited to, HL7, X12, and CCDA. We are able to leverage a single outbound endpoint from a vendor application to generate multiple varied inbound data formats, depending on the configuration of your EHR. Contact us today for more information about our product.