The demand for healthcare interfaces with Electronic Medical Records (EMR) is increasing. This increase is due to the rising adoption of EMR systems, emerging clinical healthcare data standards (HL7, CCR, CDA, CCD, ELINCS), and increasing interoperability requirements, such as CCHIT (Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology).
To achieve the most effective and efficient EMR connectivity, the following steps should be included in the process:
- Understand workflow: Define the workflow within your organization and between your organization and the organization with the EMR system
- Document requirements: Define the data requirements of your systems and the EMR in which you will be exchanging patient information
- Implement interfaces: Build the interfaces to facilitate the workflow and meet each application’s requirements
Understand workflow. Understanding the healthcare data flow within your organization and then the data flow of the organization with the EMR system is critical when you start automating the healthcare workflow. You cannot successfully automate a system or workflow which you do not fully understand.
Document the requirements. Documenting the requirements for both applications in terms of the standards being used to transmit the clinical data in the specific data format will help identify the gaps between the two clinical applications. The interface can then bridge the identified gaps between the EMR and your application.
Implement interfaces. A systematic approach to interface implementation should include the basic stages of developing, testing, implementing, and maintaining the interfaces. An effective and flexible approach, that can include tools, will help overcome common challenges such as technology, patient matching, procedure or physician code matching, and lack of cooperation to meet the end goals.
In summary, an interface to or from an EMR application is no different than an interface for any other healthcare application. Connectivity is achieved by acquiring knowledge regarding the workflow and the requirements, plus utilizing effective methodologies or solutions to implement the interfaces.