Levels and Benefits of Interoperability in Healthcare IT
The ability for devices and systems to exchange data and then interpret the shared data is what is referred to as interpretability. Systems must be able to transfer data, and then present the data in a way which it can be understood by the user for them to be interoperable.
In healthcare, interoperability can be defined as the capability of different IT systems and software applications to communicate, exchange data and then utilize the information which has been exchanged.
Healthcare organizations should have data exchange schemes and standards which should allow data to be shared across different departments. This should happen regardless of the application or application vendor.
Healthcare information has become very interoperable. One way of interoperability is when clinical data written on paper is handed from one person to another, but this is very constrained.
A current initiative in all healthcare organizations is to move interoperability to a better electronic state. This will in turn increase efficiency as well as enhance the quality of healthcare.
Interpretability in healthcare IT means that the healthcare information systems should be able to work together efficiently. This should be across the organization’s departments and should assist in the effective delivery of healthcare for patients and communities.
While it is possible to build the interoperability capacity of a healthcare organization, most healthcare practices entrust this work to healthcare IT services vendors. Interoperability in healthcare IT has three levels. These are:
In this level, data can be shared from one IT system to another. However, this interoperability doesn’t require the receiving IT system to have the ability to interpret the data.
This is an intermediate level which defines the structure or format used to exchange the data. Structural interoperability ensures that the movement of healthcare data from one system to another is uniform.
The evenness ensures that the meaning of the clinical and operational purpose of the data unaltered and preserved. So, structural interoperability ensures that data exchanges between healthcare IT systems can only be integrated at the data field level.
Semantic interoperability provides interoperability at the highest level. That is, it gives two or more systems or elements the ability to exchange information and then allows the systems to use the information.
This operability capitalizes on both the codification of the data and the data exchange structure which includes vocabulary to assist the receiving IT system in interpreting the data.
Semantic interoperability has the capability to support the electronic sharing of patient summary information amongst healthcare organizations and other authorized parties.
However, this requires distinct EHR systems and other systems to ensure the safety, improve quality, efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery.
Benefits of interoperability in healthcare IT
Better access to patient records
Most patients receive healthcare services from different resources. This at times makes the patients’ medical records to be spread across different providers, thus making it hard for one healthcare provider to access information documented by another provider.
This, in turn, presents a challenge of drawing up medical history for the patients. Healthcare IT interoperability, on the other hand, allows different healthcare systems and applications to communicate, thus easing the exchange of data between different healthcare facilities.
Through interoperability, healthcare providers can access a patient’s medical record stored in various IT systems. This, in turn, reduces the possibility of medical misdiagnoses.
Improves health care for the chronically ill
The ease of different healthcare facilities to access medical records through interoperability has substantially benefited patients with chronic illnesses. Chronic diseases like scalp psoriasis require to care or different physicians and specialists.
Therefore, it is important for a doctor to access medical records recorded by another physician. Healthcare IT interoperability allows this, thus improving the treatment of the chronically ill.
Healthcare systems normally generate large volumes of data on a daily basis from various systems and applications. However, it becomes very hard to incorporate data from these systems and applications since they have different data sources.
But, it requires collaboration, integrity, and transferability to manage the information throughout the systems. Interoperability improves communication amongst these systems and makes it easier for them to share data stored across different systems.