Advances in technology, combined with the increased prevalence of remote care, are influencing several interoperability trends for 2022. Patients want easy access to their own medical data and providers must be able to share information seamlessly between themselves so they can provide the quality, coordinated care their patients need for improved outcomes.
Interoperability, according to section 4003 of the 21st Century Cures Act, means health information technology that:
- Enables the secure exchange of electronic health information with, and use of electronic health information from, other health information technology without special effort on the part of the user.
- Allows for complete access, exchange, and use of all electronically accessible health information for authorized use under applicable State or Federal law.
- Does not constitute information blocking as defined in section 3022(a).
Interoperability is further defined 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.
One of the significant interoperability trends for 2022 will be a move toward cloud-based electronic health records (EHRs). Access to secure storage as well as better facilitation of cloud-based application adoption will contribute to improvements in interoperability between systems. The cloud platforms that are built with interoperability and security integrated into the system will make it easier for providers to store and access patient data, send referrals, transfer information between care teams, and communicate with other providers and patients in a secure environment.
Elation believes in putting the patient’s story first and foremost in their care experience. The Elation Collaborative Health Record is focused on facilitating communication between providers, to enhance that experience and improve their total healthcare outcome.
Another interoperability trend will be toward compliance with the 21st Century Cures Act mandate that requires healthcare providers to allow patients remote access to their medical records via application programming interfaces (APIs). As the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology details it, the office has “established specific API Conditions of Certification that address the practices developers of certified health IT may engage in with respect to certified API technology.
Within the 21st Century Cures Act, the API Conditions of Certification seek to minimize the “special effort” necessary to access, exchange, and use electronic health information via certified API technology. These API Conditions of Certification only apply to developer practices associated with certified API technology and do not generally apply to other software interfaces. The United States Core Data for Interoperability standard (USCDI) is the scope of patients’ electronic health information that must be supported via certified API technology.
The trend toward simplifying interoperability will continue as more healthcare organizations adopt the fourth version of the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard. Many experts believe that a mandate to move to the latest version may be required to facilitate and simplify the secure exchange of health information between systems with multiple standards.
Although ONC and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have announced that the FHIR Release 4 is the standard required to fulfill the requirements of the 21st Century Cures Act, confusion remains regarding the various versions. The ONC regulation did establish a “common and consistent set of expectations regarding what data elements will be structured and made available to fulfill multiple purposes.” The enhanced data environment is set to become a reality in 2022.