As the healthcare system evolves, more organizations are using technology to exchange crucial patient information. With tons of data being gathered, every healthcare provider needs to work in a way that is smart, safe, and efficient.

As people expect complete access to their healthcare data, technology needs to move faster and more efficiently. We can travel anywhere in the world and review our banking balances, take out cash and convert it to use in whatever country we are in. We OWN our healthcare data just as much as our banking information — but we do not have access to it as readily. Santa Rosa and Lee counties. This is where the term “interoperability” comes in.

Interoperability is defined as the “ability of a system to exchange electronic health information with, and use electronic health information from, other systems without special effort on the part of the user.” This means that all individuals, their families, and health care providers should be able to send, receive, find and use electronic health information in a manner that is appropriate, secure, timely, and reliable to support the health and wellness of individuals through informed, shared decision-making. An interoperable healthcare system should be person-centered first and foremost, but it would also improve many other aspects of our current healthcare system.

Patient-Centered, Whole-Person Care

Individuals’ ability to manage their health through access to and use of their electronic health information is a way to support individual and family engagement in health management. Individuals often do not have easy access to their health records: to obtain paper copies, individuals often have to face the inconvenience of going to a medical records department in person, signing forms, paying a fee, and waiting 30 to 60 days to obtain their own health information. With a patient-centered, interoperable system that has easy access to Electronic Health Records (EHRs), patients will be more empowered with their healthcare decisions and knowledge and won’t have to tediously repeat information to different providers or fill out lengthy paper documents. Throughout this whole process of introducing interoperability, however, we must continue to consider underserved communities that may have disparities in technology access.

Greater Patient Security and Privacy

Because these paper files will no longer exist with an interoperable EHR system, chances of misinformation spreading are reduced as all information is contained in one cohesive unit and will be kept confidential to those who have access to it. There will also be increased access to tracking of information and users, allowing more management of quality patient information across healthcare units.

Higher Efficiency and Reduced Healthcare Costs

Interoperability also makes healthcare systems more efficient, costing far less money in the long run and saving critical time for both patients and healthcare providers. According to an estimate from the West Health Institute (WHI), system interoperability could save the U.S. healthcare system more than $30 billion a year. Today, hospitals are using medical devices that are all from different manufacturers that do not connect complex information technology. This leads to miscommunication that adversely affects patients, increasing costs and decreasing healthcare quality.

Greater Patient Safety

This miscommunication also causes unnecessary deaths. According to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins, 44 percent of medical error deaths were preventable. Most of these errors represent systemic problems, including poorly coordinated care, fragmented insurance networks, and unwarranted variation in physician practice patterns. If we had an accountable interoperability EHR system, physicians would be less likely to misunderstand a patient’s history or medicine allergies, for example.

Increased Flexibility

Because interoperability saves time, the whole healthcare process will become more efficient for patients. As health records will all be in one place and will be accessible remotely, patients that may not have the means to visit a hospital for a routine checkup to get a prescription, for example, will instead be able to get their prescription online and pick up their medicine in a more timely manner. This is a more inclusive system that will allow all types of individuals access to a smooth and secure patient-oriented process, when and where they need it.

You OWN your data, hospitals and insurance companies do not.

Other Resources