October 17, 2018
The healthcare industry has been in a constant state of change since computers emerged as far back as the 1960s. In many ways, the healthcare landscape has completely changed in the last century because of digital technology, a rapidly growing population, and further medical socialization. Now, after decades of these significant changes, the main challenge presented to the modern healthcare industry involves the secure sharing of clinical data across healthcare organizations and with patients.
The key word for achieving this secure clinical data sharing is interoperability. More specifically, healthcare providers are being asked to adopt EHR systems with the ability to share clinical data with both patients and outside healthcare organizations, such as post-acute care and home care providers. Achieving interoperability in such as manner will streamline the healthcare system and improve care journeys for patients. Essentially, interoperability is the next change factor for the modern healthcare industry.How Interoperability is Changing the Modern Healthcare Industry
The evolution of HIT in the industry has really taken form since desktop computers, worldwide internet, and EHRs have emerged. These factors have culminated (at least for now) in the mandated Meaningful Use of EHRs in the 2009 American Reinvestment & Recovery Act (ARRA) and with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010.
These significant change factors (along with HIPAA in 1996) have built the foundation of the modern healthcare industry, yet have also created the challenge of siloed information becoming the norm within each individual healthcare organization or network, especially with acute providers and their EHR systems.
With most providers now showing meaningful use of EHRs and with new digital technologies emerging like cloud and mobile computing, AI, and VR, the next stage of development in the modern healthcare industry is to improve patient/provider relationships and overall healthcare outcomes with interoperability.
Interoperability is changing the modern healthcare industry mainly because its implementation will allow providers to securely share clinical data with patients and healthcare organizations outside of their networks. With standardized APIs and HIT innovation, software in the cloud solutions offer real-time availability of shared clinical data that's critical for the care of patients throughout their care journeys.
Interoperability is vital to a modern healthcare industry transformed by digital technologies; the complexities involved with caring for patients in our modern technologically advanced world are putting healthcare professionals in real danger of being overburdened and overcome with bottlenecks and pain-points in everyday workflows.
With automation and real-time cloud solutions, healthcare organizations should have the ability to streamline workflows and share clinical data with ease, yet HIPAA compliance and security concerns are slowing down the normal pace of innovation seen in other industries. The conundrum is the healthcare industry has the most pressing need for data exchange, as their services are dealing with a patient's health and often critical life and death issues.HIT Innovation is Securing a Future of Interoperability
The pressing need for interoperability isn't lost on thought leadership, governmental agencies, and HIT software companies involved in supporting the healthcare industry. The 21st Century Cures Act, Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) data standard, and proposed rules by the ONC are some of the solutions emerging to solve the lack of interoperability.
Essentially, the healthcare industry is in a transition phase involving more complexity than ever, yet having more resources and solutions to simplify and solve them as well. Healthcare Information Exchanges (HIEs) and other local and regional healthcare networks and partnerships are also building the foundation for future interoperability.
Ultimately, the building blocks are being formed now for future interoperability, of which promises to bring comprehensive solutions and unique innovative opportunities for a renewed and streamlined healthcare industry.