Interoperability, like most of the keywords in Healthcare, is a loosely defined term People use the term ‘interoperability’ interchangeably with information exchange as though they mean the same thing. Information exchange means I send you information and you send me information. You can do that even with a fax machine or an email. Interoperability means I can access the information that you have, I can use it, I can change it, I know where it comes from, I know who’s responsible for it. And you can do the same. There is a huge difference in the terms. But mostly everyone agrees that interoperability — enabling healthcare information to flow seamlessly between disparate devices and IT systems — would improve patient care and reduce costs. Even though it has become the universal goal, there is little consensus on how to get there.
Healthcare IT has had a lot of technological advancements, yet despite all that,, there’s still a disconnect when it comes to actually being able to share health data. What is the delay? I can think of a lot of reasons but the biggest barrier to interoperability is of alignment- getting device makers and IT companies to talk with one another. Adding to the problem that there is no overarching architecture for creating interoperability. In more simpler words, there is no blueprint for how the different pieces should fit together.
Having said that, I think the biggest concern that we need to look at as a priority, apart from the aforementioned, is to get far more sophisticated in the way that patient-specific information is shared, and it needs to be far more tailored to the specific physician.
The question we have asked so far and for the longest is “How can we get this thing to talk to that one?” but I think we must start looking at from the patient’s perspective. We need to start asking “How can the patient facilitate getting information from multiple systems with that patient at the center of it?”
It is important that we bring the patients and the physicians into the equation and we look at the real needs and perhaps they can be the connection that solves the interoperability equation.
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