Interoperability has been a long-held goal for healthcare providers. From health information exchanges (HIEs) to patient electronic healthcare records (EHR), the goal for better patient care is dependent on the ability of both patients and providers to more easily and securely share information across platforms and applications. The time for that true sharing may be here, given that some of today’s biggest technology companies and healthcare providers have committed to interoperability and the use of open application programming interfaces (APIs). In this news roundup, Future Healthcare Today looks at how this new focus will improve healthcare. Read the latest stories here:
Microsoft, Google And Others Pledge Support For Healthcare Interoperability
Today, it can be quite difficult for patients to share their own healthcare information among different doctors, especially when those doctors work at different hospitals using different electronic health record systems (EHRs). But now, there’s a government and industry groundswell toward changing that. At a recent Blue Button 2.0 developers conference at the White House, a group of tech giants announced that they’ve joined together in a pledge to support healthcare interoperability. Essentially, this means that the companies are committing to using open standards and open-source tools as they build healthcare products, a commitment that will allow these products to interact easily. The common standard these companies are pledging to adopt is called Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, or FHIR. But even with the pledge, reaching the promised land of interoperability is going to take some work, and the companies will have to overcome policy challenges, data model challenges and more. Read the FedScoop article here.
HIT Think: Why HIEs Could Play a Key Role in Accelerating Interoperability
The concept of health information exchanges (HIEs) is not new for healthcare, and healthcare entities across states and regions have attempted to scale up these exchanges for years. These dynamic networks are designed to connect distinct healthcare systems and enable the transmission of data while maintaining data integrity. However, ensuring the data gets to where both providers and patients want it is the ongoing challenge and frustration of exchanging data between providers using two different vendors’ information systems. When thinking about whether an HIE will assist in achieving interoperability, it is helpful to remember that various types of HIEs exist. There can be statewide, private, regional, community or other forms. In addition, over the past five or so years, a fair number of HIEs launched, but several of the newer HIEs did not last, which somewhat tarnished the perception of HIEs. Read the Health Data Management article here.
EHR Interoperability: We’re Closing In On A Signature Moment
Interoperability is on the cusp of a breakthrough akin to AT&T customers being able to pick up their phones and call Verizon subscribers. That’s a convenience that’s long been taken for granted, of course. And now, Carequality and CommonWell are poised to go fully live with a health information exchange (HIE) encompassing all major electronic healthcare record (EHR) vendors, as well as subscribing hospitals. When they do, some 80 percent of doctors will be able to share patient data among competing EHRs. That critical mass is invigorating. But even more important is how this new phase will change current thinking about the future of FHIR and open APIs and lay the foundation for really using data in a meaningful way. But wait. Lest anyone start thinking that interoperability will be solved before Labor Day, it won’t. Learn what it means here.
APIs Are the “Missing Piece” for Healthcare App Interoperability
Healthcare app interoperability is not a new challenge for healthcare organizations. In fact, over the past several years, organizations have had trouble connecting their health IT tools to their electronic health records (EHRs). Therefore, the increased use of application programming interfaces (APIs) is key. Why? It can take months for a large provider organization to integrate hundreds of healthcare applications. These apps need to not only work seamlessly with other applications, but also be HIPAA compliant. Finding an API that works with existing applications and can connect new applications without the IT department needing to dedicate as many resources to it can help organizations have an easier time integrating their applications. These challenges are where APIs become even more critical to integrating health IT systems. An API is an interface that allows unrelated software programs to communicate with one another. They act as bridges between applications, allowing data to flow regardless of how each application was originally designed. Read the article here.
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