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When it comes to interoperability, we need to think big

KLAS released a report this week that looks at interoperability through a specific lens: connectivity through “plug-and-play” services. This short-sighted approach is dangerous, especially when it comes to interoperability.

The report only evaluated two networks that facilitate the sharing of patient records—CommonWell Health Alliance and Carequality. KLAS did not assess other methods of interoperability, including point-to-point interfaces, local health information exchanges (HIEs) and application programming interfaces (APIs).

At Allscripts, we have heard from our clients that interoperability must be about more than just connecting data; it’s about making that data useful to the clinician at the point of care so they can take better care of patients. It’s about enabling healthcare professionals and patients to share data across the continuum, no matter where they are, or which vendor or networks they use.

While there is room in the industry for a variety of approaches to interoperability, the report missed the opportunity to include in its analysis the value to the clinician and the ability to harmonize data or remove duplicate data elements. Simply sharing information between two different organizations isn’t enough. 

Allscripts remains committed to true interoperability

Beyond my questions about the methodology used to create the report, the way this report represents Allscripts is simply inaccurate.

For example, Allscripts has common connections to the VA, and dbMotion facilitates the sharing and exchange of information between VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and private hospitals and/or physician practices that use a variety of different vendor EHR systems. dbMotion powers the ClinicalConnect HIE in western Pennsylvania, which is connected to the National Health Information Network (NHIN) eHealth Exchange. These connections enable a robust sharing of clinical data between the VA and private community care organizations.

This report minimizes these accomplishments and those of organizations, such as UPMC and Clalit Health Services, that are using different forms of interoperability to exchange data for millions of patients.

I feel compelled to re-iterate our commitment to interoperability for all in a multi-vendor healthcare environment. We’ve been working toward interoperability for a long time and have the achievements to show for it:

  • Our vendor-agnostic interoperability solution facilitates seamless information exchange between 360 unique data sources, including every large vendor in the market, most of the smaller ones, labs and imaging solutions.
  • More than 13 million consumers access their records through our vendor-agnostic patient engagement platform.
  • Our open strategy, which has supported open APIs since 2007, enables clients to quickly adopt the innovations that mean most to them. To date, we have enabled more than 3 billion data shares.
  • Our nationwide network has supported more than 12 million patient referrals into ambulatory and post-acute settings.
  • We are connected to nearly 100,000 points of care across the country.
  • We are supporting ONC’s effort to establish a trusted exchange framework through participation in the USCDI task force.

Healthcare has not yet achieved the promise of interoperability. To make progress, we must continue to think big and not settle for a narrow perspective. Making life better for clinicians by presenting them with accessible, relevant information is critical to moving forward.

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