Takeaways From the New Healthcare Interoperability Report
Continuing to examine important healthcare information security topics, CSA’s Health Information Management Working Group has released a new report on Healthcare Interoperability. The purpose of this report is to examine the current state of interoperability according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). It also examines priorities and goals from other Federal and National strategic papers related to interoperability that “are united in the aim to improve health, healthcare, and research through the innovative use of technology.”
Additionally, this report looks at use cases related to Electronic Health Records interoperability, use cases that must be realized as part of medical device interoperability, interoperability considerations of healthcare data in the cloud, and ways in which artificial intelligence is being used to aid in healthcare interoperability.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
The Importance of Health Information Technology
Health information technology, particularly the electronic health record, is essential in providing quality healthcare across the healthcare ecosystem. Healthcare is information-intensive, generating large volumes of data daily. It is estimated that up to 30% of the total healthcare budget may be spent on handling, collecting, researching, and storing information.
The Need for Interoperability
As healthcare started developing information technology systems, electronic health records companies and medical device developers created data formats. As information was exchanged between these organizations, it was quickly discovered they could not effectively communicate with one another. When Health Information Technology systems seamlessly exchange data with each other, it is referred to as interoperability.
How Interoperability Works
Interoperability occurs when information is transferred using a standardized format where the receiving Electronic Health Record finds the data readable and acceptable. The goal is to have the shared data have enough appreciation of the content and context to correctly represent the data to the receiving provider. This data is extremely valuable for not only correct patient care but also patient safety.
The Need for Improvement
In 2015, ONC released a roadmap for enabling individuals and organizations to share health information securely with any provider. While there have been considerable advancements in interoperability, standardization between systems still needs to be improved. Currently, there are significant variations in how data is structured and displayed.
The Main Challenge of Interoperability
Chief among the challenges of interoperability is that each Electronic Health Record vendor presents data in their own format using their own terminology, variables, and values. At a high-level, data exchanges require information to be translated from the sender’s terminology, variables, and values to the receiver’s. Specifically, the data transfer must ensure the receiver gets the data in a machine-readable, usable format.
The Goal of Interoperability
The goal of interoperability is to provide efficient and effective information sharing that protects the privacy and confidentiality of patients and ensures patient safety. Interoperability helps ensure quality healthcare information is available where and when it is needed.
You can learn more by downloading the report here.
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