Healthcare Standards for Interoperability


Healthcare reimbursement has shifted away over the past several years away from the Fee-for-service (FFS) payment model to value-based care payment models. Providers are no longer being reimbursed based on the quantity of medical tests and treatment services offered; rather reimbursement is dependent on the outcome of the treatment plan. Optimal value-based care requires that different providers share medical information and work together in developing a treatment plan for their patients.

What are healthcare interoperability standards?

Healthcare interoperability standards are data formats that are used by electronic health systems to transmit and receive medical information. There are several different types of interoperability standards depending on the type of information being transmitted as well as the preference of the health system vendor.

With the shift to value-based care, it is important that different electronic health systems are able to communicate with each other so as to offer the best treatment to patients. Interoperability standards provide a framework that the different health systems can use to communicate with each other.

Benefits of healthcare interoperability standards

There are several benefits to the use of interoperability standards by healthcare facilities and providers in the exchange of medical information:

  • Reduced treatment duplication: When medical information cannot be easily exchanged, there is the risk that a patient may be offered the same tests or treatment by different facilities. With an interoperability standard, providers can share their information with each other and not duplicate treatment plans.
  • Improved patient care: Patients are able to get better care when their medical information can be transferred to all healthcare providers involved in their care. The risk of a misdiagnosis as a result of a provider not having complete information is lessened. In addition, the providers can see what treatment regimen may have been previously done and adjust their treatment plan accordingly.
  • Statistics and research: Interoperability enables researchers to perform better research studies. The shared information can be used to analyze the efficacy of treatment regimens, monitor disease outbreaks, as well as perform other kinds of statistical analysis.
  • Reduced costs: Interoperability reduces costs for healthcare facilities by minimizing duplication of tests. With one of the causes of wasteful spending in healthcare being the unnecessary ordering of tests, interoperability helps by cutting down on wasteful spending.

Types of healthcare interoperability standards

There are many different types of standards used to exchange information depending on the type of electronic health system and the information being transferred. Some examples of interoperability standards include:

  • Health Level 7 (HL7): HL7 is one of the most popular and widely used standards in healthcare. It is used to transmit different types of clinical information such as appointments, admission and discharges, laboratory tests and results as well as radiology exams.
  • Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce, and Transport (EDIFACT): This standard was developed by the United Nations for the exchange of medical information. It has largely been replaced by HL7
  • Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT): This provides standardized codes and medical definitions used in clinical documentation. It allows for consistency of clinical information regardless of the healthcare system or the medical specialty.
  • Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine Committee (DICOM): DICOM is the standard for the storage, printing, and transmission of medical images such as X-rays and CT scans.
  • Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC): LOINC is the standard for the transmission of medical laboratory tests. All tests are assigned a LOINC which is universally recognized by all electronic health systems.

At Interoptex, we know the importance of interoperability to your being able to offer the best treatment to your patients. We have experts on hand who are familiar with the different kinds of electronic health system standards and have the necessary tools to set up your facility to easily share medical information. Contact us today for further details about our services.