Health IT interoperability is one of the major goals of the Meaningful Use program from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. However, many providers have run into significant barriers to data sharing because vendors are struggling to update their systems to accommodate requests.
Sharing health information across practices, such as electronic health records, can be integral to the continuum of care.
HIT organizations collaborate to boost data sharing
According to FierceEMR, Health Level Seven International has coordinated its efforts with several EHR vendors and clinicians to develop new strategies for sending medical information to referring doctors. Called the Argonaut Project, the goal is to expedite the creation of first-generation Fast Health Interoperability Resources to improve data sharing.
"The Argonaut Project is a great example of policy and technology solving real problems in a reasonable timeframe driven by the value proposition that interoperability via open standards benefits all," John Halamka, M.D., CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, said in a statement.
Twelve organizations will be involved in the project, including Epic, Cerner, the Mayo Clinic, Athenahealth and Beth Israel. The plan is to create FHIR-based EHR data sharing by the spring of 2015.
How can physicians achieve interoperability?
To enhance a facility's ability to send clinical data to other practices, most providers have to partner with health information exchange organizations. But choosing the right partner can be a challenge itself.
EHRIntelligence explained that doctors have a number of options at their disposal to navigate the amount of data flowing through their facilities. However, their main focus has to be supporting sage and coordinated transitions of care among other medical centers rather than simply participating in HIE.
"We should not try to be too prescriptive as an industry about this, because the last thing we want to is to exchange information just to exchange information," said Jeff Miller, executive vice president of clinical network services at Surescripts, quoted by the source. "The whole goal behind health information exchange is to ensure that we can appropriately impact the quality and effectiveness of the healthcare system, not just to ensure everybody can exchange all the information with everybody. Because I am not sure that is cost effective or even necessary."
Providers should pursue solutions that meet their particular needs, be they pediatric services or medical imagingexams. The process is similar to choosing the right EHR software for the community they serve. Understanding that health care is a heterogeneous environment is the first step toward determining the appropriate platform for achieving true interoperability.