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Chronic conditions and interoperability

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An independent primary care practice that takes advantage of advanced technology such as electronic health records (EHR) can improve its efficiency and its effectiveness with patient outcomes. When a patient requires coordinated care with specialty providers or healthcare facilities, that technology must be capable of interoperability with other systems to provide the seamless care that will most benefit those patients with chronic conditions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as reported in Managed Healthcare Executive, states that “half of Americans currently suffer from chronic conditions, and 25% of Americans have two or more chronic diseases.” Patients with chronic conditions generally see multiple providers, require additional lab tests and medications, and may require stays in healthcare facilities. These patients benefit significantly from the coordinated care that a primary care physician can provide through interoperability.

Interoperability enables the primary care physician to share patient data with specialty providers, to more effectively provide the coordinated care that is so important to patients with chronic and complex illnesses. Otherwise, the primary care physician is often relying on the patient’s memory or waiting for paperwork to come through from the other providers. This can result in wasted time and potentially dangerous errors.

EHR systems must be able to communicate with each other, for true interoperability. EHRs enable the independent physician to more easily view a patient’s records and chart progress; however, to coordinate with specialty providers seamlessly and securely, the primary care physician must be able to also see data input by specialty providers, labs, and healthcare facilities.

Interoperability helps the primary care physician provide better quality care to those chronically ill patients who need coordinated care the most. Elation’s Collaborative Health Record (CHR) has as its goal the facilitation of 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 the patient. Every time the patient sees a doctor, the physician can add their report to the CHR and make it viewable to the primary care physician.