Healthcare Interoperability Continues to Progress, but Barriers Remain

Elizabeth Snell, Apr 3 2019

categories: PR

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The idea behind healthcare interoperability is simple: ensure that various information systems, devices, and applications can clearly communicate with one another and securely exchange data. However, implementing that seamless data exchange nationwide has not been easy.

According to the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), 86 percent of office-based physicians had adopted any electronic health records (EHR) by 2017, up from 42 percent in 2008. Furthermore, 80 percent had adopted a certified EHR by 2017.

Nearly 75 percent of hospitals, health systems and acute care facilities are beyond a foundational interoperability level, recent HIMSS Media research shows. Essentially, those providers can exchange data between systems of record, but they might not be able to interpret the information.

Leveraging health information exchanges (HIEs), leveraging natural language processing (NLP) solutions or voice recognition, and moving to a single integrated EHR platform are the top steps that organizations are taking to deliver an improved care experience.

However, there can be numerous potential reasons why one provider might not be able to send or receive critical patient information. For example, difficulty locating a provider’s address when sending information or a provider lacking the technical capability to receive information are the highest barriers to electronic exchange reported by hospitals, according to a 2018 (ONC) data brief.

Both the ONC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently proposed rules that would work to end information blocking and help interoperability thrive.

“For far too long, electronic health information has been stuck in silos and inaccessible for healthcare consumers,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Our proposals help break down existing barriers to important data exchange needed to empower patients by giving them access to their health data.”

When data can be securely and effectively shared across the care continuum, everyone from patients to providers to vendors and even insurance providers will benefit. Interoperability will benefit the entire health care ecosystem, ensuring seamless access to necessary information that will help address health needs of the entire population.

At March, we’re keeping an eye on current healthcare industry happenings, helping clients find their voice to actively contribute to important conversations. With a clear understanding of how, when and why key industry players – whether that’s providers, payers or patients – are impacted by technology and digital tools, you can help drive positive change.


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