Among all the shortcomings of the healthcare system – insufficient funding, insufficient staff and poor access to care for some patient categories being only a few – the lack of interoperability within the system seems to create more difficulties than one could imagine.
In the 21st century, when digital transformation of the healthcare system is an ongoing process and platforms exist that generate deep data insights to accelerate rare disease research and drug development, interoperability remains limited.
This is the expert opinion from the authors of a recent National Academy of Medicine (NAM) special publication that makes the case for healthcare interoperability. Interoperability is the ability to automatically deliver data across time and space from and to multiple devices and organizations.
As of 2016, 96 percent of hospitals and 78 percent of physicians’ offices were using electronic health records (EHRs), the publication says. However, because interoperability is still lacking, information from multiple sources, devices, and organizations across the care system can’t flow at the right moment, to the right destination and for the right patient. According to a 2013 West Health Institute report, by implementing medical device interoperability, at least $36 billion of waste in inpatient settings alone could be eliminated.
For now, hospitals and other healthcare providers acquire systems and equipment from many different manufacturers,each with its own interface technology. This technology doesn’t always “speak” the same language of other devices different providers use, so time and effort are spent by both patients and clinicians to collect and collate multiple sets of data.
Digital interoperability has to be established across clinicians, care units, facilities, and systems. The increasing complexity in healthcare has made interoperability more necessary, since clinicians, patients and families need more seamless interfaces.
The authors believe that all care providers in the healthcare system should move away from buying devices with separate interfaces, and towards using a single, interconnected, neutral operating system.
“To ensure that healthcare dollars are spent in pursuit of healthcare delivery systems reaching desired levels of care quality, safety, and efficiency, interoperability must be a top priority,” said Victor J. Dzau, President of the National Academy of Medicine.
“Only then will the healthcare industry begin to create truly integrated care systems that continuously provide better experiences for clinicians and patients while achieving better health and healthcare at a lower cost. The time is now to realize the true potential of health information technology, and all healthcare organizations have an obligation to see this through so that future generations will lead better, healthier lives.”
The latest digital healthcare trends involve the most cutting edge-technologies. In order for healthcare leaders to prepare their organizations for emerging technologies, interoperability will be paramount.
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