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Healthcare Interoperability: Challenges and Solutions


Digital technology has allowed providers to offer quality healthcare. As the number of solutions and tools increases, there are many touch points where data is generated and It became necessary to get all patient health information in one place to make better decisions.

Healthcare interoperability enables you to access and exchange medical information across different healthcare applications and devices. Healthcare interoperability is a term used to describe the ability of different healthcare systems and devices so that information can be shared quickly and securely.

If all healthcare systems are connected using interoperability then they can work together as a single integrated unit for managing healthcare. this will communicate with each other and make it easy to share.

Why is Healthcare Interoperability Important in Healthcare?

It has always been challenging for healthcare providers to securely access and share medical information. If we can’t access such vital data when needed, it could cause serious damage. If healthcare providers cannot share information about a patient’s health status, then this will lead to poorer health outcomes and higher costs. 

It is necessary to have systems for exchanging and storing health data. It is essential for delivering quality healthcare to individuals and the population. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has noticed that two third of older Americans have at least two chronic diseases. Treatment costs for those people acquiring approximately 66% of US healthcare costs.

As per the National Coordinator for Health information technology statement use of electronic health records has increased in the United States. Many practices nowadays have continuous access to medical records and patient information from outside providers. But less than half of the practices integrate their patient data with EHR systems.

Types of interoperability in Healthcare?

i. Foundational interoperability

Foundational interoperability is the ability to send information from one IT system to another. It is the basic level of interoperability and It is not necessary that the receiving system can interpret exchange data. There might be a patient portal to send a PDF document with patient information.

ii. Structural interoperability 

It is the ability to exchange data between information systems and ensure it can be interpreted at the data field level. Examples of structural interoperability are HL7 interfaces and the transmission of patient data from connected devices like Fitbit, smart watches, and CGM.

iii. Semantic interoperability 

It is the ability to exchange, interpret information and actively use the information exchanged. Because exchanging patient medical information between different EHR systems will help improve health care coordination, decrease rehospitalization and reduce expenses.

iv. Organizational interoperability

The ability to securely share electronic medical information across organizations and individuals with following government policies, standards, and social considerations.

Challenges with interoperability in Healthcare?

i. Variation in standards

Every practice has different health care systems with different data standards. This standard variation will affect processes that have to be streamlined using interoperability.

A typical example of this challenge is that each EHR has its integration standards that vary with different applications.

ii. Higher density of data

In interoperability, there is a lot of EHR/EMR data that flows from one system to another system. Taking care of this data is essential because prevents it from overflowing, which is not an easy task. We must deal with information from multiple healthcare systems and IoT devices so that we can make it well interoperable. It is a big challenge to get this data and make it available to everyone in a suitable format.

iii. Messy Data Management

If the electronic medical records are not clean and structured, Making data from different sources accessible and shareable in a single format will be challenging, hence there might be chances of failure.

iv. Lack of skills and technology expertise

Interoperability tasks require both technical and domain knowledge expertise to implement successfully. Also, this team needs input from clinicians, financial experts, payers, and government personnel. If we don’t have that much team of expertise, then we are not able to implement successful interoperability solutions.

Expected outcomes from interoperability

i. Enhance Patient Experience

Patient experience will be enhanced by integrating EHR data with multiple digital health systems and IoT devices.

ii. Eliminate Physician’s efforts and smoothen patient care 

Healthcare interoperability allows medical providers to quickly access patients’ electronic medical records when they need to provide care. It ensures timely, efficient, and high-quality patient care since It will enhance the diagnosis process, minimize unnecessary medical efforts, and mitigate the practitioner’s pressure and stress.

iii. Reduces errors and optimizes decision capabilities

There are no excuses for medical errors and blind decisions in healthcare. If accurate data is unavailable in time, accurate decisions cannot be made.

Using Interoperability, your staff will get accurate information on time hence it will reduce medical errors and mistakes. Also, they can get much more help to make appropriate decisions for any patient regarding their health.

iv. Seamless communication and data interchange

Practices and their providers can integrate with Pharmacies, Laboratories, and radiologists using Electronic prescriptions so that they can communicate seamlessly.

Also, they can manage their workflows using interoperability.

v. Automate claim adjudication in claim processing and save payers money

Interoperability helps to identify diagnoses early and reduces the amount of work required by payers so that they can process claims without any difficulties. It includes verification of claims and highlighting frauds with wrong information.

Tips for successful interoperability?

i. Strategic Planning & Preparation

Before starting a healthcare interoperability project, read up on the planning process to make things go more smoothly. Make communication with all stakeholders and understand their concerns during the initial stage of implementation.

ii. Data Migration and Mapping 

Collect all previous EHR/EMR data that must be integrated after that start data migration.As the data is analyzed and converted into required standards, it is ready to transfer to its desired location. Data volume, standards and complexity can affect migration so it creates mapping hurdles.

iii. Patient-centric approach

Healthcare interoperability solution implementation will succeed when you put a patient-centric approach. This ensures that different workflows and scenarios for patients and providers to deliver quality healthcare.

iv. Utilize Expert knowledge 

Make a collaborative team of technology experts with healthcare domain experts so that we can achieve a successful healthcare interoperability solution. Utilize their expertise and train your team in all aspects to leverage the technology with their guidance in mind.

Thinkitive healthcare interoperability Solutions?

1. Ready to use Customized EHR Integration bridge

As we know that many hospitals have EHR applications to maintain their health data. Each EHR application has its own standards to maintain health records like HL7, FHIR, API, etc. We have excellent expertise in multiple EHR Integration services so that we can solve EHR interoperability problems.

We have ready-to-use EHR integration bridge solutions integrated with multiple EHRs. Our EHR integration bridge has integrated with EPIC, Cerner, Athena, CareCloud, NextGen, Allscripts, GE, eCW, IMS, Greenway, and eMds. Also, we help our customers to build custom EHR integration.

How EHR Integration Bridge works

How EHR integration bridge works

Our EHR integration bridge collects data from multiple EHRs in different formats and converts it into standardized formats. You can get medical information from the EHR bridge in a unified format that will support your health application.

2. IoMT, Devices and Wearable Integration bridge 

Device connector bridge

Medical devices are an essential part of the current healthcare system that will helps providers to diagnose patients and provide them with quality care. They can also generate data every second, then transmit it to a cloud-based EHR system or digital health application. This data is then available for providers to use when treating patients.

We have device integration bridge solutions that Seamlessly integrate with any healthcare device.  Device integration bridge integrated with iglucose, Strava, Dexcom, BodyTrace, Fitbit, google fit, iHealth, & blood pressure, monitors so that they can transmit patient vitals easily.

How Device Integration Bridge works

Similar to EHR, Healthcare devices also transmit data in a different format. This bridge will collect data from devices, clean it and convert it into a standard unified format to make it easily accessible. This data can be accessed by any integrated application as needed and is easily accessible to both physicians and patients.

3. Lab & Radiology Integration

lab & radiology integration

Practices orders diagnostic tests, lab tests (blood work, allergy, chemistry), and imaging (x-ray, MRI) as part of core practice workflows. We can help you communicate with any laboratory or radiology vendor that supports HL7 messaging both ways. We have experience in e-prescription Integration using Dr. First and Surescripts.

We can develop bidirectional communication with any laboratory/radiology vendor or LIS / RIS system that is capable of supporting HL7 messaging. Also, we do e-prescription Integration using Dr.First, Surescripts.

4. Payer Interoperability & Billing

payer interoperability and billing

Our team has expertise in payer integration with Revenue Cycle Management and Electronic Health records which will help you to solve payer integration workflow. 

We have helped hospitals to develop and integrate with payers and clearing houses. We also provide integration support with payment gateways so that they can collect payments from patients.


For any questions and inquiries, visit us at thinkitive

Ganesh Varahade

Founder & CEO of Thinkitive Technologies.

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