EHR software development has revolutionized the healthcare industry allowing medical professionals to finally move from paper-based docflow and enjoy the numerous benefits of digitalization. However, once the adoption of such software became prevailing, EHR interoperability quickly turned from a “nice-to-have” concept to an essential part of the functioning system.
Interoperability in EHR is essentially the ability of the system to share and receive the patient’s data from/with other software exploited by other institutions operating in the industry. In other words, it is a synonym for standardization. With such software compatibility, the patient can change physicians, move across the country or abroad, and their health records will always be available for review or modification by a chosen practitioner.
Sounds perfect, isn’t it? But luckily, interoperability in EHR allows a business owner to have even more aces up their sleeve. In this article, we’re about to explore all of the major benefits both for the public as well as for businesses and doctors.
Benefits for Healthcare Providers
First, let’s focus on the perks any modern healthcare service provider can receive.
Patient care quality upgrade
One of the major factors that influence the quality of medical care in a negative way is the lack of information. It is extremely hard to make balanced, informed decisions when there’s little to no reliable info about the patient’s health available. Interoperability in EHR resolves that complication by giving practitioners immediate access to the patient’s whole medical history. Modern technology allows the record transfer process to last a few moments, which, in its turn, takes away the pressure of making guesses. The doctor just gets all of the necessary and relevant information when they need it and is able to provide high-quality care to all of the patients.
Better Coordination for Providers
Prior to the compatible EHR systems adoption and popularization, it was typical for healthcare providers to appear discombobulated in a way. If a new patient came to a facility to receive any kind of healthcare services, the process of gathering a medical history was complicated and time-consuming. More often than not, it was a “clean start,” and the medical professionals had to run dozens of tests and procedures that would have been unnecessary if access to the patient’s EHR was granted immediately. Interoperability in EHR eliminates this scenario completely as different departments of a single facility as well as different healthcare providers are now able to exchange EHRs freely when it’s vital.
Higher efficiency and increased productivity
Not having to spend precious time on redundant tasks like duplicated tests or unnecessary questioning, healthcare professionals can actually do what they’re supposed to do — help people. And thanks to the increased level of process automation, the number of mistakes caused by the “human factor” has decreased significantly over recent years. As a result, each healthcare worker can complete more tasks and see more patients than before. Not to mention that according to a Harris Poll survey, 80% of physicians mention the increased level of stress if they’re not able to share data between the system. EHR interoperability takes that stress away, improving concentration and productivity.
Enhanced Data Security
Ensuring the highest possible level of healthcare data security is every provider’s responsibility. It is not only one of the main conditions for industry compliance, but it’s also a significant competitive edge that helps the business maintain brand loyalty and attract a new audience. EHR interoperability helps to secure all sensitive data, provide access to it exclusively to authorized users, and minimize the risk of data breaches that can lead to major financial losses for an institution.
Benefits for Patients
Ok, interoperability in EHR is great for healthcare providers as it helps them be more effective and overall successful. But what about the patients? Should they care for interoperability, and why?
Maximum control over your personal information
Any information related to health is called sensitive for a reason. No one wants this information to fall into the hands of the wrong people. The good news is EHR interoperability reduces such risks to a minimum. It guarantees that all of your data will be protected, and you will be able to securely access your health record when needed. This will help you dive deeper into the treatment process and make informed decisions regarding your health.
Receiving better care
The improved quality of medical services is actually an advantage for both the doctors and the patients. Medical professionals don’t have to run pointless tests and procedures, and patients don’t need to waste their time and money without receiving any kind of valuable result. Thanks to EHR interoperability, you’ll get solely the treatment that is perfect for you and will receive it exactly when you need it.
Full, timely access to a complete medical history is one of the keys to providing personalized healthcare services. This is the only way to safeguard profound and precise medical recommendations for each patient out there. Interoperability in EHR helps your doctor know exactly what works specifically for you, even if it’s your first appointment. The medical professional might have never seen you, but thanks to interoperability, they will have all of the relevant data right at their fingertips, which means the healthcare services will always be personalized.
The growing importance of engagement
This perk might not be so obvious, but interoperability in EHR definitely helps to increase the patient’s engagement in the care process. Availability of all health-related information, clear structure, and overall relevancy push the patient to become more proactive and speak their mind when receiving treatment. It’s now easier for a patient to question their doctor’s verdict and seek an alternative opinion if necessary.
Let’s Talk Challenges
Now that we’ve established that interoperability in EHR is exceptionally beneficial, let’s cover one subject that often is left forgotten. That topic is EHR interoperability challenges.
Unfortunately, at the moment, only about 55% of hospitals can exchange data freely and securely. This rate is growing every year, but it still is far from being somewhat satisfactory, and it will take time and effort to bring the percentage as close to 100% as possible.
Another drawback of interoperability in EHR displays is the lack of standardization in the technical specifications and protocols used by different EHR systems. This is exactly why so many healthcare facilities struggle to obtain a digital solution that will be compatible and will get the job done. Besides, the whole process of such software development is time-consuming and costly, which is a major blocker for many healthcare businesses (especially smaller ones).
Interoperability in EHR will remain on everybody’s lips for quite some time. It is something the global healthcare industry should strive for. However, the standardization process can’t happen overnight. Consolidation of efforts and consistent industry collaboration is expected to speed things up, and meanwhile, both patients and medical professionals are left to work with what they have and reap the benefits of interoperability that are available right now.