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A Definitive Guide to Why Is Interoperability Important In Healthcare?

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    Posted in Interoperability

    Last Updated | September 6, 2022

    Overview: What is Interoperability in Healthcare?

    In the healthcare industry, seamless transmission and communication of patient information have gained much importance since IT channels have greatly improved and increased in count. The support delivered is helping to eliminate the organizational challenges for data flow and interoperability is playing an influential role in adding values to the healthcare system. For the healthcare industry, the increasing mechanisms of data interoperability are leading to delivering better patient outcomes.

    For the most part, interoperability has become one of the most underutilized concepts in the healthcare system. That being said, the healthcare industry needs to eliminate errors and create dependable dynamics. With higher complexity in the healthcare industry, the demand for an optimal management system is essential for simplifying matters.

    Ranging from lesser-educated patients who have zero knowledge about medical technologies to healthcare providers who are struggling to access the medical history of the patients. With this article, we are sharing the importance of interoperability in healthcare IT systems!

    What Are The Benefits Of Interoperability In Healthcare?

    • Higher Productivity 

    Productivity has a huge role to play in healthcare systems and the regular duties of healthcare providers. It’s safe to say that healthcare providers want to spend time with patients rather than technology. With interoperability, healthcare providers will be able to access data from different systems in an optimized manner. As a result, they won’t have to worry about spending excessive time on communication.

    • Cost-Effectiveness 

    When we talk about productivity, interoperability helps with cost-effectiveness as well. There is stress on the IT department that they might not have the expertise and bandwidth to share information and data across different systems. That being said, this often results in delays in the deployment of information systems. However, the combination of digitization and interoperability will reduce the need for paperwork, for example reducing the cost of developing a health app hence improving the overall cost-effectiveness of the operations.

    • Better Patient Care 

    Interoperability plays an essential role in improving and improving the quality of patient care. This is because it delivers correct data at the right time which eventually improves decision-making. Even more, interoperability can deliver a decision support system that delivers crucial information for improving healthcare outcomes.

    • Improved Public Health Data

    Even with no other conditions, COVID-19 data have established the significance of interoperability. With the standardization of interoperability across the healthcare system, there won’t be a chance of disparity. In addition, interoperability will help stakeholders receive an accurate and translucent image of public health situations. That being said, the data interpretation can result in better public health recommendations.

    • Lesser Errors

    Believe it or not, medical errors can be expensive, irrespective of the location. When it comes down to patient care, it can result in drastic outcomes because of issues and updates with data entry. This is because any healthcare provider should have access to medical data and history since it helps save lives. Sure, not every error makes the situation about life and death but can still impact the reputation of the healthcare providers, while also endangering the lives of the patients. By automating the data entry process with Interoperable systems, hospitals and other healthcare facilities can greatly reduce their chances of errors, thus resulting in better healthcare for patients, and reliability for healthcare institutions.

    What Does Interoperability Mean In Healthcare?

    To begin with, interoperability in healthcare means the ability of healthcare IT to interpret, utilize, and exchange information and data on a cohesive basis. In addition, interoperability in healthcare is the ability of information systems, applications, and devices to integrate the data in a well-coordinating manner. The data provision, integration, and exchange are ensured in and across national boundaries, regional platforms, and organizations (through interoperability).

    This ensures on-time delivery of data and information without compromising on data flow consistency. Consequently, it can ensure health optimization for populations and individuals. Even more, application standards and interfaces will enable data sharing and access without compromising on data security.

    How Can Interoperability Improve the Quality Of Care Patients Receive?

    The tech standards keep improving and healthcare organizations get access to healthcare tools with better information standards and security. Modern-day patients want quick access to health data as they start moving from one healthcare provider to another. For this purpose, large-scale tech companies are working on ensuring this seamless information transmission and exchange through interoperability. In the section below, we are sharing how this technology can improve patient’s healthcare quality;

    • Reduction in Medical Errors

    Medical errors can prove to be fatal but interoperability allows healthcare organizations to prevent medical errors. This is because it streamlines data sharing across different applications and systems. Even more, advanced interoperability helps capture the data and interpret it; it results in error prevention by completing the patient data.

    • Higher Efficiency 

    With interoperability, healthcare providers will have access to patient care data on a consistent and real-time basis. This will help enhance the organization and healthcare provider’s efficiency.

    • Development of National Networks 

    The development and sharing of patient health data across the EHR vendors will support precise tracking and will improve healthcare quality. With effective data sharing, an interoperability system will help improve healthcare outcomes which also reduces overall healthcare costs.

    How Do You Achieve Interoperability In Healthcare?

    For achieving interoperability in the different healthcare systems, it is essential to understand and implement the classifications. It will ensure that the information systems and applications will be used for communicating the data between different systems. That being said, it will improve access to insights for better processing. Coming to the point, the interoperability classifications include the following;

    • Foundational 

    This is the most basic interoperability form. It is about transferring data from one system or app to another. The information received can be interpreted only if the user tries to access the data.

    • Structural 

    This level is used for outlining the data exchange and its syntax. It will help comprehend the receiving information at a field level.

    • Semantic 

    This is the most essential level of the healthcare systems. With this level, the information systems will be able to exchange and interpret the data.

    • Organizational 

    This level will add the non-technical aspects to the healthcare system, such as social and organizational factors. With social and organizational factors, interoperability will be connected to the organizational workflow. That being said, it will streamline the data sharing and exchange across different healthcare systems and organizations.

    While you are trying to achieve interoperability, there are various steps that can be taken for better achievement. First of all, the utilization of HIE systems will improve patient diagnosis. Also, the utilization of neuro-linguistic programming will enhance healthcare provision.

    How Does Interoperability Impact Healthcare Delivery?

    Interoperability will greatly impact healthcare provision and delivery. To begin with, the interoperability in the healthcare system enables healthcare providers to have access to medical records, inclusive prescription lists, discharges, hospital admission, lab test results, and healthcare plans. With access to this data, healthcare providers will be able to develop optimal healthcare decisions.

    In addition, it reduces the chances of duplicated processes and tests. Interoperability will reduce the administrative costs for manual and faxing workflows while allowing the organizations to improve their efficient of healthcare organizations. This is because it reduces errors. It can be utilized for mitigating the burnout of physicians.

    What Is An Example Of Interoperability?

    The perfect example of interoperability is the community health management information system. This is because this system has a centralized repository for data at the individual level. In addition, the data repository includes the clinical, demographical, and eligibility data for specific communities. This data could be used by local authorities and agencies for assessment purposes.

    In addition to the community health management information system, RHIO is another example of interoperability. RHIO is the regional health information organization that helps improve healthcare quality by streamlining the data exchange between different healthcare providers.

    Why Digital Medicine Depends On Interoperability?

    Digital data is likely to transform the medical industry but the majority of current medical information doesn’t have interoperability. It will eventually slow down the progress in the medical industry because these technology systems depend on this data. Ranging from mobile applications to artificial intelligence and big data, they cannot be used to their full potential.

    On the contrary, medical communication, artificial intelligence, big data, international cooperation, and research depends are connected to interoperability. To begin with, medical communication will ease information retrieval and prevent medical errors. Also, it helps reduce document-related burdens.

    As for AI and big data, it provides algorithms with precise data semantics and structure. It will increase the validity of the analysis results and result in trustworthy digital technologies. As far as international cooperation is concerned, it will help pool out the data across the organizations and curate global access to advanced technologies.

    Barriers To Interoperability In Healthcare

    To begin with, modern technology and systems can create an excessive amount of data but don’t have the tools for proper data integration and analysis. However, with the expansion of providers and systems, the data disparity will be low quality, hence the burnout and discontent. With this section, we are sharing other barriers to interoperability in healthcare systems, such as;

    • Technical barriers that can limit the data quality, development standards, and data matching
    • Financial barriers that include the development, implementation, and optimization of health IT
    • Trust barriers include the business incentives and legal aspects that protect data from current challenges
    • Administrative barriers that include the administrative prerequisites and federal documentation
    • Reporting barriers
    • Usability of IT

    Impact Of HL7 On Interoperability

    While we are focusing on interoperability in healthcare, it is impossible not to talk about HL7 because it plays an important role in interoperability. HL7 is basically the organization that’s responsible for developing the information sharing and exchange standards in healthcare. They have designed various standards and frameworks for navigating information sharing in different healthcare systems.

    The HL7 standards can be integrated with current healthcare technology to streamline messaging. As a result, information sharing will be easier, and the data will be identifiable. For instance, the software technologies are designed to store patient information in a billing system and patient registration. In addition, there are clinical information systems responsible for managing patient treatment and clinical activities.

    With HL7 integration solutions and interfaces, different healthcare systems can keep patient information, such as names, demographic information, and address. In addition, HL7 standards can be leveraged to exchange healthcare data between out-patient and in-patient environments. To illustrate, it’s pretty evident that HL7 can lead to better information flow, hence interoperability.

    Lastly, patients will receive better healthcare from information fluidity with the help of HL7 interoperability. HL7 tools can also help provide high-quality patient care by implementing healthcare interoperability standards.

    HL7 integration

    Interoperability Requirements In Healthcare

    •           Technical impediments– include the process flow and communication issues, such as syntactic, connection, data consistency, and QoS
    •           Semantic impediments– include the understanding of information, such as conceptualization, reference, and interpretation
    •           Functional impediments– it related to the disparity in actual and expected component behaviors, such as functional scope, model, and intention
    •           Quality impediments– it determines how the components perform the specific functions, such as correctness, reliability, and security
    •           Logistics impediments– includes the design impact on healthcare systems, such as autonomism in change and flexibility

    Healthcare Interoperability Solutions Market

    According to stats, in 2018, the global healthcare interoperability solution market was said to be $1.69 million. It is likely to spike up to $4.23 million by the year 2026 which means the CAGR growth will be 12.10%. Even more, the valuation will reach $5.29 million by 2027. The growth is dependent on the increasing demand to reduce the burden on healthcare, higher demand for patient safety, and policies subject to increasing patient care quality.

    Healthcare Standards For Interoperability

    •           Messaging standards– it will outline the content, structure, and data requirements for electronic messages to ensure precise and effective information sharing
    •           Terminology standards– it provides codes for specific health terminologies for various medications and illnesses
    •           Document standards– it will outline the information type in the documents, along with the information location
    •           Conceptual standards –allow the information transmission between different systems without impacting the information context and meaning
    •           Application standards– it will help determine the business rules’ implementation for different software platforms
    •           Architecture standards– it offers a well-integrated model for healthcare information systems for seamless integration of healthcare information systems


    What are the three levels of health information technology interoperability?

    When it comes down to health information technology interoperability, the three levels include foundational, semantic, and structural levels. These levels will coordinate and correlate the information and data exchange.

    What are the primary challenges for interoperability?

    The interoperability challenges include the absence of consistency, and lack of standardization for receiving, sending, and managing the data between various healthcare systems. In addition, the difficulty in analysis and measurement is another challenge in interoperability.

    Why is EHR interoperability important?

    It is essential for improving patient care and healthcare outcomes. It will enhance the healthcare workplace environment for healthcare providers. Also, it’s helpful in saving money for the healthcare organization on a long-term basis.

    How can interoperability improve the quality of care patients receive?

    The interoperability systems will improve the outcomes of healthcare systems while lowering the costs of different healthcare deliveries. Also, it will improve the patient experience.

    Interoperability in healthcare: benefits, challenges, and resolutions?

    With healthcare interoperability, the healthcare provision and delivery will be efficient, accurate, and consistent without compromising on quality. It can help ease the decision-making process for patients. As far as the challenges are concerned, the biggest one is the operations in silos, and integrating the systems will be complicated and time-consuming.

    To fix this challenge, it’s suggested to create an overarching system for collecting information from a different system and presenting it in an understandable manner.

    Loss due to the Lack of interoperability in healthcare?

    With the lack of interoperability in healthcare, patient identification will be tarnished and there won’t be any consistency in the healthcare provision. In addition, there will be issues regarding information management between different healthcare systems.

     Is healthcare UX important in improving interoperability?

    Yes, healthcare UX is important for improving healthcare interoperability because it helps deliver an optimized patient experience. In addition, proper UX will enhance patient care and increase digital healthcare adoption.

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