Why interoperability is the future of healthcare
“The common thread to satisfying consumers and enabling advanced data analytics and seamless care coordination is interoperability. Interoperability is the ability of devices and systems to exchange and use electronic information from other devices and systems without special effort on the part of the user. In health care, this speaks to the capability of our technical underpinnings to support data liquidity – when patient information moves freely and securely from the point of care — be that a hospital bed, doctor’s office or someone’s home– to wherever it is needed, from a clinical decision-making app or electronic health record to an analytics engine, clinical trial repository or public health registry. Interoperability of the technologies used in patient care enables the liquidity of data, without which it is more difficult to meet our goals of providing individualized care and managing the health of populations,” explains HCA CEO Milton Johnson in a keynote at the Nashville Business Journal’s Health Care of the Future event.
New center for medical interoperability
HCA’s Johnson is part of the board for the new Center for Medical Interoperability that opened earlier this month in Nashville. Other CEOs on the board come from the following health systems: Ascension Health, Carilion Clinic, Cedars-Sinai Health System, Community Health Systems, Hennepin Healthcare System, LifePoint Health, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, RWJBarnabas Health, Scripps Health, UNC Health Care System, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
The Center for Medical Interoperability is a 501(c)(3) cooperative research and development lab founded by health systems to simplify and advance data sharing among medical technologies and systems. They say they will provide a centralized, vendor-neutral approach for testing, certifying devices and systems, and promoting the adoption of scalable solutions.
The center is looking to leverage HL7’s FHIR API, particularly on the device side, according to Kerry McDermott, vice president of public policy and communications at the Center in Health Data Management.
As FHIR matures, healthcare interoperability comes to the fore
FHIR is now making the leap from a developer-centric technical framework to one that empowers real-world implementers, according to HL7 International’s CEO Charles Jaffe. HL7 recently announced Release 3 of the FHIR Standard.
Release 3 offers the following changes:
- Added support for clinical decision support and clinical quality measures
- Broadened functionality to cover key clinical workflows
- Further development of terminology services, and support for financial management
- Defined an RDF format, and how FHIR relates to linked data
- Incremental improvements and increased maturity of the RESTful API and conformance framework
Importance of healthcare APIs for interoperability
A new report by Chilmark Research highlights the importance of healthcare APIs. According to the report’s author Brian Murphy in EHR Intelligence, the importance of interoperable healthcare data will only increase as the transformation to value-based healthcare quickens:
Lessons learned about data liquidity and wider choice in application functionality for users in wider IT are seeping into healthcare. We think that the most likely path to better support for healthcare information exchange is API programs that support HIPAA-compliant access to any data source at any organization.
Providers can learn more about APIs in Healthcare in this an educational resource and primer.
Growing interest in interoperability education
HIMSS is finding growing interest in interoperability education. It says attendance doubled at the Interoperability Showcase at HIMSS17 over last year. There were 300 education sessions covering topics such as government and policy, cybersecurity and new payment models, according to Joyce Lofstron of HIMSS.
Supporting the advancement of HL7 FHIR standard
John Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, tells SearchHealthIT,
As reimbursement moves from fee for service to value-based purchasing, the need for care coordination and care management increase[s]. By joining HL7, provider organizations can influence the trajectory of interoperability. It makes great sense for providers to join HL7 and be a part of the team shaping the future.
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