Why Interoperability Matters Now

Exploring Data Interoperability

Do you have data you would like to share with other systems?  Do you feel like you enter the same data over and over as you open another application?  Would you like your data to flow from one system to another?  Would you like to receive data from a system outside of your healthcare applications?  Then you are wanting data interoperability.  The HIMSS definition of Interoperability in Healthcare is:  The ability of different information technology systems and software applications to communicate, exchange data, and use the information that has been exchanged.  Data exchange schema and standards should permit data to be shared across clinician, lab, hospital, pharmacy, and patient regardless of the application or application vendor.

In other words, the ability to trade data between any systems in your business workflow, or receiving data and incorporating it to your system, or even sending it to an outside business partner.   The receiving or sending system does not have to be one of your healthcare systems.  It could be any application that you use in your business environment.

How would interoperability help you?

You could integrate your patient data with your business data.  For example, you could send clinical or management data to your call center.  Or send patient pharmacy scripts to an inhouse pharmacy.  You could send referrals to outside healthcare partners.  You can get the right data to the right people in the right amount of time.  You would increase the efficiency of your staff by not having to re-input data that already exists in another system and would improve the overall experience for your patients.

We recently interfaced a client with data from their EHR to Salesforce, which is an application for sales, service and marketing.  This is outside of the healthcare arena – but there was a lot of overlapping data the was useful to both applications.   This was actually set up as a bi-directional custom interface so that Salesforce can send data needed to the EHR and the EHR can send data to Salesforce.  This reduced many redundant tasks in both applications.

There are many ways to format and transfer data between systems and we have handled them all.  Data can be transferred with standard HL7 messages, JSON, EDI, CCDA and many other formats.   There are many methods to transfer the message like through TCP/IP, webservice, API or even a custom interface.

With so many different systems in a standard work environment, interoperability should be on the top of the list of creating an efficient work flow. Being able to exchange data between databases, applications, or even to systems outside of the healthcare arena will improve efficiency and free up time for patient care.

Let your data travel between systems to improve the interoperability of your workflow.

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About the Author:

Anita Johnson
Anita Johnson is a Interface Developer / Solution Specialist at eMedApps. She has been involved with healthcare software development and interfacing data for the past 18 years. She studied computer science at Rice University and Houston has been her home ever since. She loves Houston 9 months out of the year and then spends the other 3 in the air conditioned spaces or on vacation. She has raised two children and is currently raising two yorkies. She is fairly confident that 2018 -2019 is going to be the year for the Texans, Rockets and Astros - a Houston trifecta.