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Interoperability’s new reality

Have you felt the shift in how we are talking about interoperability across the healthcare spectrum today? The concept is everywhere – at every conference, in every budget, in government regulations and discussions around the world. We are moving beyond a 1:1, linear approach to health data exchange, to a robust network that enables us to move data in more directions than ever before.

2018: A Turning Point for Interoperability

The pace of innovation has been ramping up over the past few years, but 2018 will be bigger than ever for advocates of open, interoperable and connected healthcare technology. Providers and health systems are starting to use Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) apps to attest for meaningful use and engage with patients.

The final Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (also referred to as TEFCA) regulations will further clarify consumer rights to access health information and continue to drive access to even more information. We expect more guidance on provider-to-provider exchange of information, as health information exchanges, industry alliances and government entities weigh in on what it means to be interoperable.

Unleashing Innovation to Address Complex Needs

The need for point-to-point connections is still very real. But more and more, I’m seeing increasingly complex needs – a patient needs to communicate with a primary care physician, who needs to communicate with a hospital and check a state registry and save a document into the patient record.

The scenarios come from the real-world struggles of actual patients, providers and caregivers who have waited long enough to have the tools and integration options to really communicate and exchange data the way they want to. They come from stakeholders who’ve never been part of the discussion about what solutions can improve patient care and to get information into the right hands.

The emergence and adoption of industry wide FHIR application programming interfaces allow innovators to efficiently build and connect solutions pulling data from multiple sources using the same integration, freeing them to spend more time on what to do with all the data rather than just simply accessing it.

The Power of Fresh Perspectives and Teamwork

I always get excited when a company comes to us with a workflow that we haven’t seen before; it often means we’ve moved beyond the basics and into new territory. I’m so happy to be part of the solution and working every day toward a better tomorrow.

Interoperability is not just a buzzword and a trend, but will become our everyday experience – if we keep talking, collaborating and working together to make interoperability happen.

Which approaches will be the ones to advance interoperability? Many organizations now influence this change, leading the way and pushing boundaries to show what is possible when we’re all working together for the greater good. Fresh perspectives and new designs bring all participants in the healthcare space together to solve problems. This is the new reality of what it means to be interoperable.

Editor’s note: This post first appeared on HIMSS Health IT Pulse blog on March 22, 2018, which you can find here.

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It Takes a Community is a place for stories about building open, connected communities of health. Together we can enable smarter care, delivered with greater precision, for healthier patients, populations and communities. Join the conversation with comments and stories of your own.

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