Industry-Wide Effort to Accelerate Interoperability Urged by Hospital Associations

Seven major hospital associations, including the American Hospital Association (AHA), are leading pleas for an industry-wide effort to enhance data sharing. The new report is seeking public and private stakeholder support to speed up interoperability and help remove the obstacles to data sharing.

In order to achieve the full potential of the nation’s healthcare system, health data must flow without obstruction. Only then will it be possible to give the best possible care to patients, properly engage people in their health, improve public health, and ensure new models of healthcare are prosperous.

Effective sharing of patient data enhances s care coordination, improves safety and quality, empowers patients and their families, bolsters efficiency, minimizes healthcare costs, and allows the accurate tracking of diseases and the creation of strong public health registries.

The report describes how great progress is being made to improve interoperability of health IT systems and ensure that patients data can be obtained regardless of location or system. 93% of hospitals now permit patients to access their health records digitally, 87% allow health records to be downloaded by patients, 88% of hospitals share patient records with ambulatory care providers outside their system, and 84% of hospitals permit caregivers to access data on behalf of patients.

Interoperability improvements have needed tremendous effort and have come at a massive cost. Progress has been made but hospitals still face substantial obstacles that are stopping efficient data sharing. Health IT tools are often costly, many do not easily support information sharing, and the use of different health IT and EHR systems make it difficult to efficiently send information.

It is now typical for healthcare to be delivered via multiple settings and to different locations. Records generated in doctor’s offices, hospitals, laboratories, medical devices, and in non-clinical settings should all be accessible and capable of being sent quickly, efficiently, and accurately to establish a full patient record that can be logged on to by patients and their healthcare suppliers.

The report remarks that diplomats at the United Nations speak a wide variety of languages but, through translators, are able to communicate efficiently and successfully. Mobile phones can communicate with other devices, regardless of brand, model, or operating system. Healthcare needs to be conducted in a similar fashion.

A final push is needed to get interoperability where it should be. The challenges that need to be tackled are listed in the report along with an agenda detailing the pathway to full interoperability.

In order to arrive at true interoperability, all industry sector stakeholders need to work together with a common goal. The roles that different stakeholders must play are included in the report.

Author: Maria Perez