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Largest barriers to interoperability

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Interoperability has been a known issue in healthcare for a while now – so why haven’t we cracked the code yet? True interoperability enables the electronic sharing of patient information between different systems and different providers, for the benefit of the patient’s care. Given the huge benefits of interoperability to the independent physician and to the patient, what are the biggest roadblocks toward achieving that interoperability?

The Office of the National Coordinator’s Health IT Policy Committee reports that “true health information exchange won’t happen until a critical majority of providers have installed and are successfully capable using EHRs.” Until more independent physicians opt in to solutions such as the Clinical First electronic health record, true interoperability will continue to be a challenge.

The Health IT Policy Committee report also points out that “process innovation” is a barrier to those medical practices that need to incorporate technology into new processes, to reduce the impact on day to day activities. Although the independent physician may be taking advantage of EHR for interoperability, the office processes may not be keeping up with the advantage technology for effective practice management.

HIPAA and security concerns are also large roadblocks toward achieving interoperability. Recent cybersecurity concerns are also a challenge to interoperability. Communication with patients and with other providers must be protected against cyber attacks. With a solution such as the Clinical First electronic health record, the independent physician can be assured that shared data is safe and is in compliance with all HIPAA regulations for electronic protected health information (ePHI).

The Health IT Policy Committee report suggests that, for true interoperability to exist and to be successful, it will require “multiple stakeholders to act in a coordinated manner.” Additional, economic-focused incentives need to be evident for all providers. Beyond the benefits of coordinating care through the EHR, Health Information Exchange (HIE) payment incentives with specific timelines for implementation may encourage more participation.