Home | Blog | HL7 & Interoperability | The True Meaning of Interoperability In Healthcare In 2022

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Historically, patient health data is spread across multiple healthcare organizations, and systems have made it challenging for medical professionals to access the correct information when needed. Sharing health data across systems needs to be safe and secure, especially in 2022, when we see vulnerable systems falling victim to hackers.

Interoperability provides the solution to healthcare organizations that are currently experiencing burnout in staff, systems in disarray, and understaffed. We explore below what interoperability in healthcare means in 2022.

Definition Of Interoperability in Healthcare

The Interoperability definition in healthcare can be described as the capability of two or more different healthcare organization systems (information, applications, and devices) to exchange, access, integrate, and use data in a harmonious manner. 

 

Interoperability in healthcare sees systems function across and within national, regional, and organizational parameters. This allows the provision of timely, seamless, and optimized healthcare to individual patients and populations.

 

Interoperability in healthcare has structures that function at four different levels: level 1 (Foundational or simple transport), Level 2 (Structural or structured transport), Level 3 (Sematic or semantic transport), and Level 4 (Organizational).

Why Is Interoperability In Healthcare Important?

Interoperability In healthcare is essential as it provides a smooth and consistent data exchange when implemented successfully. This can reduce any redundancies and inconsistencies that providers, payers, and patients encounter. Data sharing and interoperability are becoming essential in providing a patient-centric healthcare delivery.

 

The sharing of data/ interoperability between healthcare organizations allows medical professionals and other healthcare providers to have a complete view of their patients, ensuring that they can make vital decisions.

 

Stakeholders across the healthcare industry, with better interoperability, can view how patients use and access different healthcare information. This information provides decision-makers with avenues to seek better patient safety and care and enhance patient experiences.

 

Interoperability in healthcare has been shown to provide higher performance in the organization—better experiences for both patients and healthcare professionals and increased care coordination.

How Does Interoperability Affect Medical Professionals and Patients?

From the medical professional standpoint, having access to the correct data at the right time is more important than having access to all the patient’s data. Having access to accurate patient data for the circumstance (i.e., medical emergency) can provide immediate care without the medical professional accessing different organizations (e.g., pathology, radiology, histology) and databases to piece enough information together to treat the patient.  

Interoperability provides medical professionals with all the patients’ current and relevant information in one place. Thus, reducing wait times for patients that need urgent care, maximizing overall patient care, and increasing hospital or organization revenue (more patients can be seen during the day).

Patients benefit greatly from interoperability in healthcare, as they can access vital healthcare information such as bloodwork or imaging from a single portal. The patient can access the medical information/results with real-time interpretation by alternative clinical systems. Interoperability will leave patients feeling confident as they understand their healthcare information and are more likely to follow treatment better.

Keys To Implementing A Successful Interoperability Plan

For 2022 to be the year that interoperability in healthcare progresses and sets a foundation for success in the years to come, a cross-functional approach is needed. The following vital factors with consideration to data needs, the appropriate leadership, new processes, and a comprehensive review system of partnerships and agreements must be addressed and implemented by industry stakeholders.  

Privacy and Security

There should be a shared responsibility between all stakeholders and providers (e.g., health plans, providers and patients, developers, the government) to ensure that patient healthcare information (especially shared between different points of care) is safe and secure.

 

Security and privacy concerns are addressed by HITECH and HIPAA, with some input from changing state laws. EHR developers are required and encouraged to build adequate security into their products, with ONC including many security-related capabilities in Certification Criteria.

Technology and Data

For interoperability to become a reality, technical capabilities such as data, integration, ingestion, sharing, supporting infrastructure, and controls must be considered. Data governance management encases the deployment of capabilities, absorbing outside data via APIs, and deploying and determining program data framework for Data Governance.  

 

Data management plans are essential to interoperability’s success. On average, healthcare systems have up to 18 EHRs with data in different locations. Data management plans ensure operational data archiving, eliminating data silos, and the patient can request personal information. An optimal data management plan sees healthcare organizations attain optimal revenue and conformity.

Program Design

Program design and management coordinates performance tracking, decision making, and cross-functional delivery. The program design is essential as it supports and implements the interoperability program. This allows for organizational changes to be implemented, adjusted according to use case delivery, and encourages drive awareness.

 

Program management coordinates with IT, compliance and business, risk, and cross-functional delivery teams to provide organizational performance tracking, escalation, and decision making. A core management function is essential to establish within the program design as it coordinates and takes inventory of risks, new projects that are needed, any projects that are affected if there are any dependencies or teamwork across organization portfolios.

 

Program design provides interoperability with an integrated work plan and strategic planning to provide work visibility and flexibility spanning all teams and projects.

Strategy and Governance

An interoperability program’s strategy and governance answer how the program should be refined, defined, aligned, and monitored. Essential features of strategy and governance are; business adoption and value management, change management and program management, and lastly, program and strategy stand-up.

 

Business adoption and value management look to develop KPIs and a dashboard to best support interoperability. Change management and program management execute and support the interoperability program.

Conclusion

In 2022, we will likely see interoperability in healthcare decrease the burden that medical professionals and other healthcare workers face whilst moving healthcare back to being patient-centric.

Successful design and implementation of interoperability will see stakeholders and the community be better connected, resulting in more effective healthcare, increased patient confidence in the treatment, and increased revenue for organizations.

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