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How to Achieve Interoperability in Healthcare

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Healthcare interoperability is the ability of different healthcare systems and organizations to communicate and exchange data. HIM directors face many challenges in achieving interoperability, but there are also many solutions available. In this post, we’ll discuss the challenges and solutions to achieving healthcare interoperability.

Why is interoperability critical in healthcare?

The theme of interoperability is one that is relevant to many different aspects of healthcare. In order to have a fully functioning health data exchange system, all the different parts need to be able to work together efficiently.

This includes everything from the electronic health records (EHRs) that are used to store patient data, to the communication systems that allow different providers to share information.

What are the challenges of interoperability?

One of the biggest challenges to interoperability is the lack of standardization. There are hundreds of different electronic health record (EHR) systems, and each uses its own set of standards. This makes it difficult for different systems to communicate with each other.

Another challenge is the lack of a health information exchange (HIE) infrastructure. HIEs are the backbone of healthcare interoperability, but many health systems have not yet activated their HIEs. 

Despite these challenges, there are a few ways that healthcare providers can work towards improved data sharing and coordinated care.

How to achieve interoperability in healthcare

Standardized medical coding

One way is to use standardized coding systems. This will help to ensure that all providers are using the same terminology when they are documenting patient care. If you are like many hospitals and facing staff shortages, consider working with a professional medical coding company that can help you centralize your coding workflow.

Use an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Another way is to use a data sharing platform, such as an EDI. EDI stands for Electronic Data Interchange and is a way for different computer systems to share data. EDIs are often used in healthcare to exchange patient information between different providers. By using an EDI, providers can share information more easily, and patients can receive better care.

Organize a designated record set (DRS)

An EDI can be very helpful in achieving interoperability, but it is not the only solution. Another way to achieve interoperability is to organize a designated record set (DRS) for your staff. This will help to set guidelines for how information should be shared between different providers. By having a DRS, providers will know what information they need to share, and they will be able to do so more easily.

Include medical records in all formats

Organizing a DRS is an ideal way to achieve interoperability, but it is important to remember to include healthcare information that may not be in written format. This includes record formats such as fetal monitoring strips, X-rays, and diagnostic images. This will help to ensure that all providers have all the information they need to provide the best care possible.

Be aware of stringent state laws

Another challenge to achieving interoperability is the fact that some states have stricter laws than others. This can make it difficult to share information between different states. To overcome this challenge, it is important to be aware of guidelines for the release of information in each state, and to work with providers in other states to find a way to share information that is compliant with all the laws.

Focus on patient care

Another way to achieve interoperability in healthcare is to put the patient at the center of the experience. By doing this, all the different healthcare organizations and systems that a patient interacts with will be focused on the same goal: providing the best quality of care possible for the patient. When everyone is working towards the same goal, it becomes easier to achieve interoperability and value-based care.

Work with a qualified Business Associate (BA)

Work with business associates that understand the healthcare industry and have a strong healthcare compliance team. As knowledge around information blocking regulations becomes more widespread, it’s more critical than ever to have an organizational policy in place to ensure compliance with state and federal legislation.

While challenges like these exist, it is still possible to achieve interoperability in healthcare. By using the latest health information technology and working with an outsourced release of information services partner like VitalChart, providers can overcome the challenges associated with healthcare data sharing and provide optimal patient care.

Contact us to learn more about how our VitalChart team can help you achieve healthcare interoperability.

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