There’s More to Interoperability than Technology

August 25, 2017

Interoperability has been a big buzz word for the past few years as the healthcare industry struggles to share information across different systems.   Doctors are overwhelmed with their own documentation sagas and do not want to go searching for extraneous data but want only relevant information when they need it; no more, no less.  Meaningful interoperability requires not only the technical transfer of data, but also the normalizing and authenticating the information, determining which information is important and how it should be rendered.   While the industry has made tremendous progress on technology standards and vendors are loosening restrictions, there is still a long road ahead to make shared data into relevant and useful intelligence.    


The amount of healthcare generated is projected to grow exponentially over the next decade as additional providers come online, patients generate more information through wearables and apps, and the industry advances in capturing social determinants.  Creating big data is not the issue.  The issue is making the data relevant and actionable when it is needed.   Initial standards and Meaningful Use created Continuity of Care Documents (CCD’s) as a means to support point-to-point transitions.  For complex patients, a provider must wade through many multi-page documents during a patient encounter.  


While the technology challenges are great, including patient matching, data formatting, and the integration of security and authentication protocols, the business rules and the human factors can prove just as daunting.   Data for the sake of more data, and interoperability for the sake of data liquidity does not help at the point-of-care.  Targeted data elements that support clinical decision-making should lead the charge, with the goal of making data consumption and interpretation straightforward.   Specific use cases including risk scores, care management program participation, and therapeutic medication issues are just a few examples of valuable and actionable data.  Information must be presented in the workflow at the time of review in an easily consumable manner so providers recognize any outliers and act on them.     




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