Interoperability may not have gotten enough attention in the early days of Meaningful Use’s electronic health records (EHR) gold rush, but now it is taking center stage as healthcare providers, government agencies, vendors, and committees consider how to support the exchange of data easily and securely.
What is interoperability?
Interoperability refers to how different information technology systems and software applications communicate and cooperate to perform operations. It’s a complex issue involving both technical and legislative challenges. With its Interoperability Roadmap, the ONC is striving to create a landscape where EHRs and software from different vendors will seamlessly interact with any hardware or software used by healthcare networks.
So what’s your point here?
Interoperability is facing a crisis in connecting healthcare technology to ensure improved patient care from the Meaningful Use incentive program. The problems stem from each hospital system having its own legacy information exchange system. In December, Carequality, a public-private collaborative working as part of the Sequoia Project to drive more efficient data exchange, launched an interoperability framework it says will be useful to a diverse array of stakeholders. They describe the problems they are experiencing that interoperability framework hopes to solve as similar to only being allowed to call other customers who share your same cellular carrier.
However, our goal is to bring consumer technology to the table. A great deal of existing healthcare information technology consists of specialized hardware; it’s expensive and disruptive. Consumer technology, like smartphones and tablets, is getting better exponentially. The APIs that mobile app developers can engineer are making EHRs and healthcare interoperability more seamless than ever before.
The BYOD (bring your own device) movement is accelerating this change. By allowing employees to use their own devices, healthcare organizations can help control costs and the availability of IT and technology resources that integrate seamlessly with a legacy healthcare network information system. Physicians should be allowed to focus on patients, not the hassles of coordinating care and interoperability mandates.
Developing mobile solutions for Health IT with smartphones and tablets is fostering more sustainable innovation in the healthcare space. With frictionless EHR integration, mobile solutions for secure messaging like Scribblit are making interoperability easier and more secure, while still prioritizing better patient outcomes.