Interoperability is Already Having Positive Effects – Here’s How

By Hans Buitendijk

For healthcare providers and their patients, interoperability holds the promise to substantially improve quality and reduce costs, while enabling coordination of care and engagement of patients with their caregivers.

We know that this work is well underway, and so EHRA members collected real-world examples of where interoperability is already working, and the positive effects that many organizations are achieving today.

We’re pleased to share our report, “Interoperability Success Stories: The Journey Continues,” which demonstrates how interoperability can lead to:

  • Reduction in duplicate tests
  • Improved care coordination
  • Prevention of visits to the emergency department
  • More time with patients
  • Millions of dollars in shared savings
  • Less faxing, fewer phone calls, and elimination of hand-written correspondence
  • More complete documentation available before surgeons meet with patients
  • Allergy reaction prevention

For some healthcare professionals today, not only the promise but the reality of the benefits of interoperability seems intuitively obvious and real.  For others, challenges remain in recognizing the value that interoperability has already provided.  Nonetheless, all stakeholders agree that more needs to be done to better assess the impact of interoperability in relation to other advances in health IT processes, skills, and knowledge.  

In creating this report, the EHRA Standards and Interoperability Workgroup set out to collect information on the impacts of interoperability, both in terms of quantity (e.g., transaction volumes) and quality (e.g., impacts on patient care, staff satisfaction).  This combined view can provide a more complete picture of the true impact of interoperability in operational healthcare settings.

We continue to collect quantifiable data on the number and types of data exchange transactions that EHRA members’ customers are experiencing, and look forward to publishing that information in the near future.

Since 2009, with the passage of the HITECH Act, there has been increased focus on the adoption of health IT, specifically EHRs, and achieving improvements in care quality and efficiency through the broader sharing of patient information in support of value-based reimbursement models. Interoperability across healthcare providers in communities, and eventually nationwide, is the essential enabler in reaching those goals.   

We believe that EHRA is uniquely positioned to provide specific examples of our members’ customers’ experiences and related benefits where interoperability has made a clear impact on quality, cost, or care coordination.  

We’re proud to make this first collection of interoperability success stories available to all industry stakeholders as a demonstration that the journey is well underway.  

Hans Buitendijk is Chair of the EHRA Standards and Interoperability Workgroup, and Director of Interoperability Industry Strategy at Cerner.

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