The Case to Improve Interoperability

The pandemic has revealed the need for reform when it comes to interoperability, or how we share data between systems.

In the healthcare industry, this issue is complex. Disparate computer and software systems exchange and share data from a range of vital sources, including laboratories, clinics, pharmacies, hospitals, and medical practices. This is no easy task, given that various practices use hundreds of software platforms to document patient care.   

Although there are government guidelines in place that standardize complex healthcare data exchanges, there are still issues in many areas of the process that must be addressed across all systems, including foundation, support, and privacy. If there are specific standards for the way clinical, diagnostics, medications, workflow, and financial data are being recorded, the complexity of the issue grows, as does the amount of time it will take someone to handle it. It's important to keep in mind that data in this field goes beyond just text; when you consider images from MRIs, X-rays, and test result charts, the challenges faced can become overwhelming. 

Healthcare has struggled with this for almost a decade, but hasn't made much progress in taking steps to address it. However, what has become clear is that the best results come from providers who leverage the same system. The most recent improvement efforts have seen acute-care providers give the post-acute community access to their electronic health record (EHR) systems (Cerner, Epic, etc.), facilitating a smooth transfer of information between caregivers.  

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