The US Government laid out a plan for an interoperable EHR IT Infrastructure with its Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020 that, likely, won’t be achieved but that doesn’t mean providers can’t have EHR interoperability!
“The only way for health IT to achieve its full potential, is when it unobtrusively supports individuals as they strive to reach their full potential for health” is a sentiment with which physicians, patients, and health IT vendors can all agree. That quotation, taken from the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020, is aspirational for all aspects of health IT. Steady progress has been made from the implementation of the HITECH Act. An obvious limiting factor that keeps health IT from achieving its full potential, though, is the lack of easy EHR interoperability between providers.
The Importance of EHR Interoperability in Government Health IT Planning
Interoperability is and was such an important part of the government’s health IT planning that it is specifically addressed in the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020. Goal 4 of this Strategic Plan is to “Finalize and Implement the Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap” and it’s broken down into 5 components:
- Collaborate with industry and public stakeholders to advance core technical standards for terminology and vocabulary, content and format, transport, and security
- Leverage the ONC HIT Certification Program to ensure that a broad spectrum of health IT conforms to the technical standards necessary for capturing and exchanging information
- Aim toward privacy and security-related policies, practices, and technology that keep pace with the expanded electronic exchange of information
- Foster a supportive business, clinical, cultural, and regulatory environment that encourages interoperability
- Publish guidance that defines high-level principles for policies and business practices that advance trust and interoperability
The Complications of Nationwide Interoperability Achievement
Many would agree that these points make sense as the steps to achieving nationwide interoperability. So why haven’t we achieved this goal? In a phrase: it’s complicated. Unfortunately, the lack of technical standards between health IT systems, EHRs, and the like makes direct communication between them difficult, if not unrealistic.
eMDs and Interoperability Platforms Help Make It Happen
Despite the belief that the Federal Government made a mistake by not forcing the standardization of the technical aspects of EHRs (which would simplify interoperability) invaluable progress has been achieved by organizations like CommonWell and Surescripts, via their Record Locator & Exchange solution. Both organizations are vital for eMDs interoperability initiatives as outlined by Neil Simon, eMDs’ Chief Operating Officer:
“eMDs believes interoperability is critically important to our customers because it allows our customers to exchange information with the larger healthcare ecosystem. We help our practices with our integration tools built into our products as well as leverage our partnerships with CommonWell and Surescripts.”
Development and Partnerships in Interoperability
By developing our own integration tools and partnering with leaders in interoperability, eMDs gives providers real-time access to patient health information (PHI) that is pertinent to the patient’s treatment and outcome. Our interoperability tools and partnerships also seek to solve the problem of redundant testing, improve care coordination, and increase patient safety. By accomplishing these goals, interoperability ensures more efficient and individualized care while attempting to reduce the cost of providing that care.
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