Posted on behalf of Katie Jankowski, Software Engineer
You’re on vacation in beautiful California and decide to go snorkeling off the coast of Catalina Island. You were so caught up in admiring the sea creatures, you didn’t even notice that you were approaching the reef and accidentally collided with it. Now you’re injured and need to get to a hospital as soon as possible.
You finally arrive at the closest hospital and are being triaged. The medical staff is starting to ask you quite a number of questions. Where do you live? When’s your date of birth? Are you taking any medications? Do you have any allergies? Have you ever been injured like this before?
As you’re answering these questions you begin to think ‘Why am I always asked the same things? Why can’t they just get this information from my hometown hospital in Boston so that I can get out of here quicker?’
The short answer is, they can!
Interoperability is a growing topic for the healthcare industry and brings great advancements with it. By definition, Interoperability is “the ability of different information technology systems and software applications to communicate, exchange data, and use the information that has been exchanged”. What this means is, the California hospital would already have your information on hand from the Boston hospital. The California hospital would already know that you’re allergic to penicillin and would already be looking for an alternative patient care option to ensure a safe recovery. Less time would be spent asking the same questions and more time would be spent treating and recovering from illnesses and injuries. Patients could rest easy knowing that their information is on file and being reviewed by the medical staff once they’re admitted to the facility.
There are a number of EHR systems available for healthcare organizations and interoperability is the movement that allows all of these systems to integrate together, forming a seamless exchange of data. This integration is so important to patient care, so that doctors and healthcare professionals alike are aware of any medical history, allergies or current medications to prevent interactions during the treatment and recovery process. In the cases where patients aren’t able to adequately communicate to their caregiver, this integration can assist with filling in those gaps.
One example of information that can be exchanged is the CCD (Continuity of Care Document). The CCD is basically a one stop shop and has become increasingly popular in the Healthcare IT world, particularly with regard to integration. This document is essentially a summary of a patient’s chart, including information like recent lab results, visit history, demographic information, allergies, and medications among many other customizable features. The CCD is now essential to all healthcare organizations, especially during emergency settings needing quick, accurate, and up to date information on their patients.
Because each EHR has the ability to add their own flare to the IHE specification for the CCD, interoperability allows for each document to still be readable regardless of the EHR system being used. In other words, integration systems are EHR-agnostic and facilitate behind the scenes translation between EHR systems so that each and every organization has legible data for their patients.
Through the use of HISPs, HIEs, and integration systems like Summit Healthcare’s Summit Exchange, Express Connect, Provider Exchange, and Care Exchange products, healthcare organizations are able to exchange data seamlessly and patients can trust that their caregivers are receiving accurate information.
For more information regarding Summit Healthcare products, please visit our website at http://www.summit-healthcare.com/.
 HIMSS, http://www.himss.org/library/interoperability-standards/what-is-interoperability
 MEDITECH, https://ehr.meditech.com/news/top-10-ways-meditech-is-committed-to-interoperability