The modern-day healthcare industry is increasingly relying on technology in various ways to make patient care and different kinds of healthcare operations better, and more efficient.
The use of electronic health record (EHR) software is among the most beneficial implementations of digital technology in today’s healthcare ecosystem.
And since the healthcare system is oftentimes rather complex, more than one EHR product is sometimes required to work together in tandem. This is where interoperability in EHR comes into play.
Here’s an overview of how interoperability can help better the use of EHR systems, unlock new features, and improve healthcare provision overall.
What Is Interoperability, And Why Is It Important In EHR?
For starters, the EHR or electronic health records refers to the systems or technology used to digitally store and manage patient data, records, histories, insurance details, and other information.
Interoperability, on the other hand, is the ability of two or more systems to exchange and use information, which is invaluable for healthcare providers who need to collaborate and coordinate care.
In other words, interoperability enables healthcare providers to access and share patient data in a secure and timely manner, which is essential for providing effective patient care. By tapping into the value of interoperability in EHR, healthcare providers can unlock new features and gain a competitive advantage in their industry.
Core Benefits Of Interoperability In EHR
Easy Access To Patient Information
In the past, accessing critical patient information could be an uphill task for care providers, but not anymore. \
With interoperability features in EHR, healthcare providers can access and share patient records, laboratory results, and other forms of data from multiple sources, allowing them to collaborate easily and make informed decisions quickly.
This can help improve patient outcomes by enabling better diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
Reduced Error Risk
When used in EHR, interoperability also further eliminates the need for manual data entry. This can help to significantly reduce the risk of errors, thus improving patient safety by a huge margin.
As long as the primary data was accurately captured, the system can easily pull it from other sources within the network upon instruction.
Interoperability also unlocks new features in EHR, such as advanced analytics and population health management.
With these features, healthcare providers can gain insights into patient and population health, enabling them to make data-driven decisions that improve outcomes and patient satisfaction.
Additionally, advanced analytics allow healthcare providers to identify opportunities for improving patient care, diagnosis, and treatment.
Increased Patient Engagement
Interoperability enables healthcare providers to better engage with patients and provide more personalized care. This can help improve patient satisfaction and create more loyal customers.
This feature is even more important nowadays when telemedicine is increasingly gaining popularity. A good health IT environment should take into account how applications interact with their users when seeking services such as e-prescription and virtual consultations.
Improved Efficiency In Healthcare Processes
By leveraging interoperability, healthcare providers can save time and money by reducing data entry, data duplication, and other manual processes.
In other words, it can help improve efficiency and overall cost savings for healthcare facilities and related stakeholders in the industry.
Improved Research Capabilities
Since it enables healthcare professionals to access and analyze data from multiple sources, interoperability can be fundamental in speeding up discoveries and improving research capabilities as opposed to manually having to collect and analyze data from clinical settings.
As noted by Digital Health Standards after Covid-19, it can also help speed up research and reduce the associated costs when the world badly depends on researchers for healthcare solutions.
Enhanced Data Security
While it makes patient data easy to access and share within EHR systems and applications, interoperability also employs data security controls to help ensure that patient data is secure and remains confidential. It also enables healthcare providers to better detect and prevent data breaches.
FHIR: A Classical Example Of Interoperability In EHR
FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) is an open source healthcare data standard developed by the Health Level Seven International (HL7) standards organization.
It is designed to enable the exchange of healthcare information between different healthcare systems, applications, and organizations.
Typically, FHIR provides a data model, an application programming interface (API), and a set of data exchange formats that make it easier for healthcare applications to share data.
Although it wasn’t primarily built for this, it also provides standards to ensure the privacy and security of healthcare data. With FHIR, healthcare organizations as well as patients can access health records and other healthcare information from EHR systems more conveniently and way much faster than before.
Indeed, observing interoperability standards can have multiple benefits to the healthcare industry. As far as EHR is concerned, interoperability has made things easier in many ways for different stakeholders in the healthcare industry, from health providers to payers, researchers, innovators, and even patients.