A Need For Interoperability

A Need For Interoperability

Jack, a resident at XYZNursing, has a prescription for antibiotics.

What needs to happen so he can start the course?

Pull up patient profile in CRM.

(There are sure to be a couple of Jacks; verify his phone number and last name). 

Find Jack’s history in the medical records system.

(Are there any allergies or other medical concerns?)

Is this medication covered by Jack’s insurance?

And which system is the source of truth for the up-to-date insurance information?

Interoperability – The Mess

The procedure varies based on the processes and software in place at a given facility. Yet, the struggle of having many systems with no communication or data mapping between them remains the same for all healthcare facilities and patients.

And a huge issue caused by this lack is the multiplied chances of human error.

It is estimated that around 30% of patient data in electronic health records is incomplete or inaccurate, and more than half of patient records are linked incorrectly.

With more than half of the data shared between organizations containing errors, the Office of the National Coordinator for Information Technology (ONC) estimates that around a fifth of all patients are likely not matched to their entire medical record!

There currently is no full solution to integrate and allow for all stakeholders, including caregivers, insurance providers, payers, patients, and healthcare facilities to fully communicate and exchange data. Thus, the increase in billing and prescription errors, unnecessary treatment/testing, and HIPAA breaches should be no surprise.

Interoperability Defined

Interoperability is the secure exchange of electronic health information without special effort on the part of the user. The vision of Interoperability is to allow for complete access, exchange, and use of all authorized healthcare information across all software utilized by any of the participants in patient care, including patients themselves.

The first step to achieve interoperability is to streamline all systems within an organization. Once that is in place, the ultimate goal is to communicate between all key players in the healthcare system to provide accurate data and allow for the best patient care possible.

True Interoperability

Among the many benefits of interoperability, enhanced patient care and data security are of key importance to all stakeholders.

Other key benefits:

1. Patient Care Coordination and Experience

Interoperability promises to provide quick and well-coordinated treatment, by having complete and accurate data available at every point. Currently, patients often repeatedly complete secretarial tasks, like locating documents, completing paperwork, managing insurance and relaying symptoms, and/or disclosing medical history to caregivers.

2. Patient Safety

Based on a study by Johns Hopkins, 44 percent of medical error deaths were preventable! It is the hope that the implementation of advanced interoperability, with the aim to capture and interpret data across systems and applications, will allow healthcare organizations to prevent errors due to missing or incomplete patient data. Should an error occur, its cause will be easily pinpointed.

3. Patient Privacy and Data Security

By requiring organizations to fully assess where their PHI resides and with whom it needs to be shared, the user access and security implementation can be controlled and data can be properly secured. Currently, many systems store data, yet do not communicate with each other, making it difficult to track users with access to affiliated applications.

4. Productivity and Cost

System interoperability, according to an estimate testified in front of US congress by the West Health Institute, can save the U.S. healthcare system more than $30 billion a year. Aside from the dollar amount, interoperability has the potential to save time with every patient encounter by linking the correct patient data at the right time, every time.

5. Public Health Data Accuracy

When IT systems interact, quicker and more accurate collection and interpretation of public health data follows. This can help answer pressing questions for both patients and providers, and allow healthcare organizations to collectively educate one another on predicting and preventing outbreaks.

 Obstacles On The Path To Interoperability 

  • Unstructured Data

To allow for the exchange of data, records must be captured in a standardized way. According to Gartner, 80% of healthcare data is in unstructured formats and locked away in a myriad of EHRs. A common vocabulary across all parties must be instituted.

  • No Universal Patient ID

Having a UPI means providers and payers can follow patients throughout their medical and life events, ensuring all information is 100% correct, current, and complete. Currently, the absence of a Universal Patient ID, and the overwhelming amount and fluidity of patient data, creates significant issues with billing, prescriptions, and even actual treatment errors – which should be easily prevented.

  • Data Security

Though this is a huge concern, many industries have proven that it’s possible to implement procedures to ensure data travels seamlessly and securely across systems. Examples may include: saving only pertinent data, excluding data when a patient’s identity is not relevant, and including only data elements necessary for the intended purposes.

How Can You Facilitate Interoperability?

Though every change presents challenges, every challenge heralds growth. As the new rules and procedures for interoperability are hopefully set into place, there will likely be discomfort and opposition.

Yet, keeping up with the implemented updates and staying above the current of new implementation will ensure enhanced care for your patients, smoother processes for your employees, and a better future for the entire healthcare system.

The CMS and ONC have taken steps to move interoperability forward. However, these steps are only a small part of the whole picture and in order to achieve the primary goals of lowered costs and improved care, all stakeholders must be as transparent as possible.

As John Gresham, Vice President of DeviceWorks and Interoperability, at Cerner, said:

“One thing is certain – the quest for interoperability will stretch far into the future. The promise is better, safer, and more effective care.”

Intra-Facility Interoperability

While complete interoperability inches forward, your facility can already enjoy the benefits of intra-facility interoperability. By utilizing the AMP Management platform, which securely integrates patient data between all your in-house software, you can enjoy the best breed of software without the hassle and inaccuracy of double data entry. Contact us to find out more.