Interoperability

Sharing patient information to coordinate care 

What is interoperability?

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.

Health care systems choose to use specific EHR systems depending on factors such as the size of the care facility and state requirements. However, health care facilities often need to interact with each other in order to share patient information (and the facilities they interact with often utilize different EHR systems, making it difficult to share information).

Currently, much of this communication happens via paper faxing and long phone calls, eating up time and money on both ends of the relationship. Increased interoperability between electronic health record systems would make health care data universally sharable, facilitating patient care and allowing for seamless referrals and transitions between health providers.

What are some of the barriers to interoperability?

  1. There are often large fees associated with setting up connections between EHR systems
  2. A lot of different EHR systems exist, each with different interfaces, technical specifications, and capabilities–this makes it harder to understand how to exchange information in a frictionless way
  3. Patient data has traditionally been kept very private, causing confusion as to how to share information safely
  4. Additionally, certain stakeholders such as IT companies are incentivized to block the sharing of patient health information

How much progress has been made?

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was passed in 2009 in an effort to promote the meaningful use of health information technology. It incentivized the use of electronic health records to reduce health disparities and stipulated penalties for lack of meaningful use after 2015.

In 2014, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) outlined a 10-year plan to achieve universal interoperability of EHR systems by 2024. The goal is to create an interface that would allow patients and providers to easily access, send, and receive data, changing the climate of patient information technology forever.

How can Elation help?

Elation believes in putting the patient’s story in the center of their care experiences, whether that includes visits to physicians in-network or out of network.

Elation’s Collaborative Health Record (CHR) aims at facilitating cross-communication between providers. The CHR is a centralized dashboard with a patient’s story, notes, and test results, managed by all the physicians treating your patient. Every time your patient sees a doctor, the physician can add their report to the CHR and make it viewable to you. Instead of getting documents faxed over from other clinics, all you have to do is open your patient’s longitudinal record and all of the information is right in front of you, allowing you to make more informed decisions about your patient’s health.