Interoperability – easier said than done

Interoperability, one of the key themes at HIMSS in April, is the next frontier for healthcare organizations once the ICD-10 hurdle is vaulted. That’s easier said than done.

NEMT CEO Linda Sullivan

NEMT had a recent experience of attempting to disconnect a series of servers and create new connections when moving from one collocation site to another. It took more than one attempt creating planned downtime twice.

Planned or not, downtime is not something that is acceptable for more than a short, rigorously planned period of time. Several staff members have significantly more gray hair after the experience.

Analogous to this experience is the attempt for healthcare systems to achieve interoperability. The number of systems that are now operating inside of even small healthcare facilities is mind-boggling. Moving beyond the obstacle of vendors not playing nicely in the sandbox to the fact that there are so many systems, so many different connections, so many interfaces, interoperability may turn out to be the biggest challenge healthcare facilities have faced to-date.

And the pressure is mounting via numerous requirements in Stage 2 meaningful use criteria in the electronic health records incentive program.

In June of this year, AHIMA and Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) released a white paper encouraging HIM participation in interoperability efforts. According to the report “IHE provides a forum for care providers, HIT experts and other stakeholders in several clinical and operational domains to reach consensus on standards-based solutions to critical interoperability issues.”

It’s an important step on the road to improved and safe universal access to patient health information. It’s worth reading — take a look: AHIMA-IHE White Paper June 2015.

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