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Interoperability Healthcare: Bridging the Gap in Patient Data in Order to Achieve Better Care

Authored by: i3 Healthcare Solutions

There will be a lot you don’t know about a new patient during their first visit to your medical practice. If you’re lucky, you’ll have medical records from recent providers, but even then, getting a complete patient history is challenging.  

Interoperability healthcare initiatives aim to solve this challenge and consequently are fueling increased spending. A recent survey found that 55% of C-level executives planned to spend 5% to 20% more on solutions for healthcare interoperability in 2023 than in the prior year.  

“In this day and age, we still have some patients hand-carrying their medical records from provider to provider,” says Jon Swisher, director of sales engineering, healthcare at i3 Verticals. “Solving this disconnect requires a single source of truth readily accessible to providers, which includes accurate and reliable data.”  

However, achieving this single source of truth isn’t without challenges, many of which can interfere with providers’ reaching the necessary efficiency and accuracy required to best serve their patients.  

Interoperability healthcare data: Many systems, many formats  

Interoperability is complex. Providers have many systems and sets of data and integrating them isn’t always easy. “Sometimes the challenge involves permissions; sometimes it involves integrations or some other hurdle,” says Swisher. “Additionally, the industry is experiencing an increased number of mergers and acquisitions, creating another layer of complexity.”  

Organizations also struggle with ‘analysis by paralysis’ due to the sheer volume of data and lack of capabilities to effectively leverage it. Swisher suggests that interoperability is a priority, but ensuring the data is actionable is also essential.  

He recommends asking whether the data is in the required format, or it needs to be translated. Also, identifying who needs the data and in which format will support more successful interoperability.   

Data interoperability healthcare: Tips for success  

As organizations work to improve interoperability and data sharing, Swisher suggests a few insights to consider.  

More data isn’t better data. Swisher explains that you want a complete patient record, but that you need to remember that more data doesn’t always equal better data. Providers need a way to interpret that data and ensure it is accurate and reliable.  

Identify potential data issues. As you work toward improving interoperability, proactively anticipate potential issues, such as incompatible formats. For example, system A might save a data point in a time/date format, but system B might save it in a date format. These slight differences can cause additional complexity when integrating and improving interoperability.  

Extend self-serve options. Keep self-serve options at the forefront as you work to improve interoperability. “Demographics are shifting,” says Swisher. “As you consider serving younger generations, remember that they don’t want to talk on the phone. They want to text, chat online, or use a tech-enabled solution. So, we want to achieve interoperability in a way that promotes self-serve capabilities.”  

Interoperability healthcare: Long road, continued progress  

One of the most significant opportunities as providers move into the future is achieving that “single source of truth,” according to Swisher. He explains that this achievement could eliminate a great deal of the repetitive work happening today, resulting in fewer errors, improved efficiency, and time savings. And, of course, all these gains can positively impact the patient experience.  

But are we close to removing the need to lug paper charts from provider to provider? Not yet, but we’re certainly inching closer. “There aren’t really limitations from a technology perspective,” says Swisher. “The larger issue is if an organization has the resources to invest in technology. And once they do, working with the right partner is key to anticipating and avoiding common interoperability pitfalls.”  

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