Is Interoperability Important for Healthcare Operations?

The healthcare industry is getting more diverse and complex day by day. Interoperability in healthcare has emerged as one of the biggest trends that are reshaping the way patient-related data is exchanged and interpreted.

Managing and keeping track of patient records is a mammoth challenge that’s always staring the healthcare industry in the face. To bring in efficiency, hospitals big and small, are equipping their staff with modern software solutions with the inclusion of machine learning in healthcare.

interoperability in healthcare

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Interoperability in healthcare is a comprehensive process where patient data is made accessible to the patients, caregivers, insurance providers, and even researchers in an easier and safer manner.

Why is interoperability the buzzword?

Simple: it offers a convincing and futuristic solution for a growing problem in the industry.

Want to know how adopting interoperability into your hospital system can help boost your hospital’s efficacy? I’ve got you covered.

Read on to discover the benefits of interoperability in healthcare:

What is Interoperability in Healthcare Operations?

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) defines interoperability as, “the ability of different information systems, devices and applications (systems) to access, exchange, integrate and cooperatively use data in a coordinated manner, within and across organizational, regional and national boundaries, to provide timely and seamless portability of information and optimize the health of individuals and populations globally.”

In other words, interoperability is the process of enabling access and sharing of relevant data securely. Healthcare systems process interoperability at different levels based on their size and complexity. The 3 major levels are:

  • Foundational Interoperability

This is the basic level of interoperability in healthcare where information systems can exchange data through different channels. The information is readily available for use at the receiving end.

  • Structural Interoperability

At this level, the format of the data to be exchanged is defined. Structural interoperability in healthcare is an intermediate level where the structured message needs to be interpreted and analyzed before using it for clinical or operational purposes.

  • Semantic Interoperability

Semantic interoperability is the most complex level where an unlimited quantity of coded data can be exchanged across multiple channels. Even when doctors are using different software solutions to exchange data, the process is quite seamless thanks to the way the data would be structured. The application of artificial intelligence at this level can be extremely beneficial.

Benefits of Interoperability in Healthcare

Interoperability in healthcare is beneficial for caregivers. Even patients today can request access to their medical records thanks to HIPAA rights.

With the introduction of interoperability in healthcare, both these ends can be efficiently managed. Here are the top benefits you should know:

1. Boost Efficiency

Operational efficiency is one of the top priorities in today’s healthcare systems. Interoperability in healthcare enables organizations to manage a variety of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) without consuming too much time. With this, more medical staff will be available to actually serve the patient rather than collecting reports and maintaining paperwork.

By adopting interoperability into healthcare operations, systems are able to exchange standardized, coded and crucial patient information without human interference. When practitioners are able to access relevant records easily, they can diagnose and treat their patients with enhanced efficiency.

Imagine, for example, how beneficial it would be to have access to EHRs while providing online consulting via a HIPAA compliant mobile app during a pandemic situation like the one we are facing right now.

2. Simplify Record-Keeping

Record-keeping is a meticulous yet essential responsibility at a clinic or hospital. Maintaining various health records of patients in a way that makes them easily accessible helps deliver better care and patient engagement. The inclusion of interoperability in healthcare simplifies the entire process of record-keeping.

With the help of advanced health information systems (HIS), you can now gather patient information from different sources and store it securely. When a patient’s medical reports are readily available, the doctors can attend to the patients’ health conditions quickly and treat them efficiently.

3. Deliver Better Patient Satisfaction

Patients today anticipate a smooth and satisfying journey when they visit a clinic or hospital for treatment. The quality of the entire experience matters to them as much as the quality of the treatment they receive.

By adopting interoperability in healthcare, organizations can eliminate undesired inconveniences like extensive paperwork, repeated tests, and prolonged waiting periods for reports. In this process CRM software such as operations CRM, sales CRM, analytics CRM, etc for better customer service. These CRM tools automate your operation to boost your customer satisfaction.

With the detailed summary of a patient’s medical history accessible for caregivers, they will be able to better diagnose the health condition and suggest the most suitable treatment: all without making the patient wait! Once the patients are satisfied with your services, you can ask for a referral and widen your customer base.

4. Helpful in Critical Situations

Imagine this: a patient with a chronic illness is on a client visit or vacation when they have to be rushed to the hospital. In such critical situations, time is of great essence. If the medical practitioner is able to access all the EHRs, they can skip running multiple tests and scans, and immediately provide treatment. That’s how crucial interoperability is in taking healthcare to the next level.

Furthermore, practitioners at different locations can connect through a video conferencing app and discuss treatment in real-time when both have access to the patient’s records. Thus, interoperability will reduce the cost of treatment and facilitate timely treatment in critical situations.

5. Maintain Privacy

Maintaining privacy and safeguarding patient data is one of the biggest demands of the healthcare industry today. HIPAA too lays great stress upon protecting the right to doctor-patient privacy.

Interoperability effectively manages the safety of data as there is minimal human intervention both while exchanging data as well as storing it in a secure manner. Even during a time of data breach, your digitized information is secure since it’s stored in a coded manner.

6. Minimize Human Errors

Human error in healthcare can be fatal. Needless to say, accuracy is pivotal while caring for patients. When medical records are entered and maintained manually, there is room for unintentional discrepancies. Some of these human errors may be dangerous for the patient.

Interoperability eliminates human errors to the maximum extent. As the data is exchanged between systems and curated by software, there is no room for human interference. That’s why interoperability in healthcare is more reliable.

7. Better Transition of Care

Care coordination involves different doctors and care teams coordinating together to provide the best treatment for a patient. This dynamic process greatly relies on interoperability in healthcare for easier and safer transfer of data.

When patients move from one location to another or change their healthcare providers for further treatment, interoperability enables the smooth exchange of data and thus facilitates better continuity of care for patients. This is very helpful in treating patients with chronic conditions or in emergencies.

With electronic data readily available, the new doctor can quickly understand the medical history and course of treatment the patient has received thus far and provide further treatment.

8. Reduce Costs

Interoperability in healthcare allows organizations to operate efficiently. When accurate information is shared within a quick time, healthcare providers can avoid going through the procedures over and over again and thus reduce the cost of treatment for patients.

Let’s say a pregnant woman is taken to a hospital in an emergency and all her medical reports are with her doctor at another clinic. Thanks to interoperability in healthcare, doctors can quickly access her previous records and get started with the required medical procedures rather than waste time and money running basic tests.

That’s how implementing interoperability in healthcare can reduce the cost of treatment for patients as well as operational costs for hospitals.

Are You Ready to Incorporate Interoperability into Your Organization?

It’s clear from emerging healthcare trends that the adoption of this type of technology will soon become widespread to make healthcare seamless and effective. The benefits of interoperability in healthcare prove it. When implemented smartly, it can simplify a lot of tasks and make your team more productive.

Adopt interoperability in your healthcare organization to provide better care and a satisfactory experience to your patients.

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