Overlooked approaches to interoperability August 9, 2017
Interoperability is all about accessibility. Interoperability allows the independent physician to access patient information, without waiting for a fax or a phone call from another provider. Likewise, any approach to interoperability has to start at that physician level. The interoperability crisis has often pointed to more high-level issues, but tackling interoperability in Health IT must focus on the reason it is needed – more efficient, more effective patient care.
A patient-centered approach, putting the patient’s data at the center of the care ecosystem, is the much-needed catalyst for interoperability. Physicians need more than just an exchange of data. They need to be able to access patient information using a real-time, collaborative tool that gives them current, accurate test results, visit notes, and other information that has been input by a patient’s other healthcare providers.
As Robert Wachter, MD, Chief of Hospital Medicine, University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, noted in 15 Thoughts on Interoperability from Healthcare Leaders, healthcare leaders “want a seamless flow of information around all the buildings they own.” They want collaboration and interoperability between their patients’ providers, labs, and pharmacies. They are not necessarily concerned about the issue or interoperability or the interoperability crisis that may exist anywhere else.
The challenge is to approach interoperability from that patient-physician perspective. Solutions such as Elation’s Clinical First EHR provide a provider-centric Clinical EHR that exists at the nexus of the clinical workflow, supports the physician-patient relationship, and drives outstanding patient outcomes. This approach reassures patients that they have access to their physician and their physician has access to the patient’s’ complete medical picture, including visits to other providers, lab results, and medications.
While the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology (IT) has published a 10-year vision for addressing the interoperability crisis and achieving an interoperable Health IT infrastructure, the most innovative and effective approach starts in the “buildings” the independent physician owns. As the ONC Health IT vision points out, “physicians expect health IT to enable and support patient care.” Any approach to interoperability must stay focused on improving the quality of that patient care.