This advisor’s take on solving interoperability for small independent practices

Part of the beauty of an electronic health record (EHR) system is that it gives the independent physician ready and immediate access to information on a patient, including lab results, medications, and visit notes from other providers the patient may have seen. The interoperability of EHR systems plays an incredibly important role in this process.

Interoperable electronic health records (EHR) allow the electronic sharing of patient information between different EHR systems and healthcare providers, improving the ease with which doctors can provide care to their patients and patients can move in and out of different care facilities.

What happens when there is no interoperability between systems? David Wasserman, an advisor with the practice solutions and medical economics group at the Massachusetts Medical Society, was recently interviewed by Physicians Practice on the subject of solving interoperability for small practices.

When asked what solving the interoperability problem could mean for patient care, Wasserman stated that it would impact:

… maintaining continuity of care for patients, minimizing or eliminating the duplicity of services, and helping physicians share patient information so they can gain insight from specialists that would complement their diagnoses.

He elaborated on the interoperability challenge, providing an innovative approach to the problem that is caused when EHR systems are not able to talk to each other. Wasserman suggested that an independent physician who has a good relationship with a patient might be able to use that high level of patient engagement to have the patient persuade other healthcare facilities:

… if your patient has a good relationship with you as a physician, your patient can then ask for the hospital to provide you with access to their systems. Providing you with access to your patient via the hospital’s EHR means you can track their progress.

Wasserman agreed that all parties involved, including independent physicians and healthcare facilities, must work together to drive interoperability “and they have to put the patient first, and their cash second.”