When hospitals and medical providers invest in new EHR and HIE infrastructure, they need those systems to work well together. An improved data gathering, storage and management system will help operations, but not revolutionize them in the same way that a platform that fosters information sharing and collaboration can. Because of this, interoperability and healthcare system integration are emerging as critical needs in the sector.
This trend is evidenced in a recent study from the Optum Institute, which found that healthcare CIOs are dealing with excessive financial burdens and operational challenges because they are having a hard time developing compatible EHR setups, Healthcare Informatics reported.
The study found that community healthcare providers have made significant progress in establishing EHRs that meet meaningful use requirements. They are also having success in advancing health IT in general and supporting innovation within the sector. This has led to many hospital CIOs recognizing the value of interoperability between their hospital and the community healthcare providers. Interoperability between physician EHR systems and hospital is emerging as one of the more important areas for growth in the medical sector. The study found that most HIE users have access to data from just 60 percent of patients within the infrastructure, making it difficult to streamline operations. This is making interoperability a critical procedural requirement, as poor compatibility between EHR systems detracts from patient care and the business side of the healthcare equation.
While interoperability is proving troublesome for many healthcare organizations, the study did reveal that significant progress is being made when it comes to IT innovation. . Approximately 87 percent of respondents are actively using EHRs, a clear indication that the technology is truly taking hold in the sector. Furthermore, 70 percent of those polled said they have achieved meaningful use level one and 75 percent expect to reach level two by 2014.
Integration is key to taking EHRs from the stage of being a useful tool and making them a revolutionary technology. When patient data is automatically updated and shared between various healthcare entities, physicians can easily gain access to the information they need to provide optimal care and be assured that all of the content is accurate and up to date. Without such measures, EHRs are often limited in actual use.