Why Interoperability is Critical for Connected Care

National Health IT Week panel hosted by College of Healthcare Management Executives (CHIME) examines the need for interoperability and standards, and how health IT can connect providers with patients across the continuum

The healthcare industry is in the midst of a major transition. Organizations are shifting towards value-based care, working to improve access to care, and looking for new ways to engage and educate patients, all while managing growing costs. While these changes may seem daunting, technology can help move the industry forward.

As part of National Health IT Week, the College of Healthcare Management Executives (CHIME) brought together leaders from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), Partners HealthCare, Rady Children’s Hospital, Intermountain Healthcare, and Pursuit Healthcare Advisors to discuss the role of health information technology (IT) in connected care. While the conversation ranged from telehealth to reimbursement reform, one theme that kept bubbling up was simple: we need better interoperability and common standards.

Health IT systems must be tightly integrated and speak the same, standardized language for any real progress to take place, panelists argued. Without these factors, doctors cannot easily access or share information, and don’t have access to a complete picture of the patient. Not only does this problem reduce productivity, it affects clinical outcomes. In fact, Intermountain Healthcare CIO Marc Probst noted that we could save a whopping $300 billion a year and 300,000 lives by standardizing data across the healthcare industry.

Healthcare organizations have made huge strides in this area, with 75% of hospitals now using at least a basic electronic health record (EHR), up from 9% in 2008. We still have a long way to go, though. Patients often visit multiple providers such as hospitals, physician offices, pharmacies, and retail clinics to receive care, and those providers must be able to communicate using a common language. It’s not good enough to manually enter data from one system into another, as many providers do today. That process is inefficient, unnecessary, and can even lead to more errors.

So how we do move forward? One answer is to create a culture of change in our healthcare organizations, said National Coordinator of Health IT Dr. Vindell Washington. We need to educate patients and providers about their rights to certain health data. Second, we should start small, beginning with a single area. We should test out standards in a use case like a medication list and work out any kinks before expanding into other areas. Lastly, we should adopt and share best practices with the industry so we can learn from one another. We’re all in this together – both public and private sector – and together, we can contribute to the conversation to create real change.

At ViiMed, we know that interoperability is a top priority for our customers, which is why we built our platform to integrate with existing health IT systems like EHRs. Not only does this help you realize the full value of your investment in current tools, it also gives you the actionable data you need to make smarter decisions. To learn more about our integrations and how we’re addressing this challenge, please contact us.