The interoperability of electronic health records (EHRs) has been around for a while. Still, the Cures Act Final Rule has made it a buzzword among health IT departments and medical administrators. Healthcare providers must comply with the new rules to avoid being labeled as information blockers. Achieving and maintaining truly interoperable EHRs poses enormous challenges. There are numerous roadblocks to successful healthcare interoperability. Too often, these prevent providers and health IT developers from making long-term progress.
Please continue reading to learn more about the five most common challenges with healthcare interoperability and how to overcome them.
What Is Interoperability in Healthcare and Why Is It Important?
Healthcare interoperability concerning EHRs refers to the ability of healthcare providers and various record systems to share patient information electronically. One provider's EHR system should be able to transfer patient data to another provider's system. To achieve true interoperability, providers must keep data "liquid." This means that stakeholders will always have access to patient data.
Civil penalties for information blocking may influence software vendors to comply. Still, a much more compelling benefit is the opportunity to become an industry leader. The EHR vendor that offers the simplest interoperability solution may quickly gain popularity. This results in genuine profit and fast growth.
Healthcare Interoperability Challenges
The benefits of EHR interoperability are obvious, but achieving healthcare interoperability presents five major challenges.
1) Managing Inconsistencies in Data from Multiple Sources
Conflicting information across the network is a major issue, particularly for healthcare IT vendors who service large health networks. Providers store data in multiple, often disparate locations, and health IT departments spend countless hours looking for them.
Solution: Adopt a unified network with a single interface. The process of sharing information is simple once the groundwork for a standardized electronic health record network is laid. Consider software that can automatically pull data from various silos and establish a consistent dataset.
2) Verifying Electronic Patient Information Requests
Maintaining the confidentiality and security of patient health records is critical. You require more from your EHR provider than just a simple nod of approval, particularly in light of the new training and certification requirements introduced by the Cures Act Final Rule.
Solution: You'll need a reliable intermediary with the time and expertise to ensure that data requests are appropriate and secure.
3) Overcoming Organizational Opposition to Data Sharing
Some players in the healthcare sector have a vested interest in keeping information from being shared with other providers. The incentive to share patient data is minimal at best when a practice's EHR system requests it from an urgent care facility.
Solution: Eliminate the uncertainty surrounding data accessibility. Make data completely accessible to the appropriate entities at all times rather than picking and choosing when to push it out into the network.
4) Interoperability Management Specialists are Expensive to Hire
EHR interoperability requires a lot of effort. Every person in most healthcare settings has the time, much less the qualifications, to keep up with this daily task. However, hiring someone capable of preserving EHR interoperability is costly, particularly for smaller organizations.
Solution: Don't hire anyone. Allow a specialized software platform to maintain EHR interoperability on your behalf.
5) Making Data Accessible is Now a Requirement
If your data is not as easily accessible as the Cures Act requires, you may be reported as an information blocker and fined. Although EHRs are a first-line solution, the Cures Act pushes the industry into uncharted territory.
Solution: Consistently export your data to a single location. Create an online portal for access to the central location where the data is stored. As a result, patient data is always available to those who require it.