Interoperability Leads to Better Patient Care

Why Improved Interoperability Leads to Better Patient Care

Interoperability Leads to Better Patient CareOn October 6, 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released its Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap. The 166-page document describes how public and private sector efforts will come together over the next 10 years to “advance the safe and secure exchange of electronic health information across the country to improve individual, community and population health,” according to ONC.

Near-term goals (2015-2017) focus on sending, receiving, finding and using a common set of clinical information to improve healthcare quality and outcomes. Data sources and users will expand via mobile health and wearable devices during the intermediate term (2018-2020) to support better health and drive down costs. Finally, in the long term (2021-2024), nationwide interoperability will become a reality with a person-centric system that leads to advances in public health and medical research through real-time data access.

Healthcare Interoperability, Interoperable Health IT EcosystemONC’s vision for a truly interoperable healthcare environment calls for enabling individuals to securely share electronic health information with care providers and make use of such information to support their own health and wellness through informed decision-making. In addition, “an interoperable health IT ecosystem should support critical public health functions, such as real-time case reporting, disease surveillance and disaster response, as well as data aggregation for research and value-based payment that rewards higher quality care, rather than a higher quantity of care,” the Roadmap states.

Nonetheless, work remains to be done in standardizing health information to enable interoperability across systems, aligning payment incentives intended to motivate adoption of health IT tools within value-based care models, and clarifying federal and state privacy and security requirements governing access to and use of protected health information.

In light of these potential obstacles, ONC’s Roadmap also emphasizes flexibility to allow for innovation on the part of technology developers. For example, NetDirector is helping to smooth the path toward interoperability with its new HealthData Exchange solution, which enables secure, cloud-based data and document exchange between healthcare providers and vendors. NetDirector announced the first such integration on November 17 in collaboration with Connect(x) Healthware. Any provider using the certified Chart (x) EHR now has an instant connection to NetDirector for sending/receiving numerous types of clinical or billing transactions.

Building on existing infrastructure will be a key principle guiding the establishment of an interoperable health IT ecosystem. Consider that 94 percent of non-federal acute care hospitals in the U.S. use a certified electronic health record (EHR) to collect data about patients, and 78 percent of office-based physicians use an EHR system to likewise collect electronic patient data.

The HealthData Exchange allows hospitals’ and physicians’ EHR systems to interoperate with other hospitals and physician groups, radiology/imaging centers, immunization registries, laboratories, pharmacies, and even patient portals. The cloud-based technology reduces the time, cost and effort required for EHR integration while streamlining clinical workflow and communications with the extended healthcare community needed to optimize patient care.

To learn how your organization can achieve interoperability faster with fewer in-house resources and lower set-up costs, request your free demo today.