For health IT professionals, interoperability is a relatively new idea in the grand scheme of things – but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t made a massive impact in recent years. Over the past half a decade, EHR interoperability has transformed from a goal to mandated practice. And, although most participating in today’s healthcare community would agree that adopting it is the right approach, providers, vendors, and patients alike are constantly facing complex, pricey systems and general misalignment.
EHR interoperability continues to be a challenge, especially when it comes to implementation and maintenance. And with new specifications like FHIR gaining widespread attention, the need for practical solutions for seamless interoperability is clearer than ever before. There’s also a lot of progress being made, particularly with the availability of robust API solutions (like Emissary®) that can overcome common interoperability hurdles like variations in HL7 implementation.
As EHR interoperability is a popular topic of discussion within the health IT community – as well as the healthcare community at large – there’s a lot of information out there. To help cut through the noise, we’ve compiled a list of the top 50 articles, blogs, organizations, and white papers on the subject. Below you’ll find a list of the most valuable EHR interoperability resources, whether you’re a vendor, provider, patient, or an ancillary organization. They’re not ranked or rated in any way, but they are listed alphabetically by category for easy reference.
- Articles on EHR Interoperability
- Blogs on EHR Interoperability
- EHR Interoperability Organizations, Agencies & Working Groups
- EHR Interoperability White Papers, Reports & Presentations
Articles on EHR Interoperability
Last spring, Becker’s Health IT & CIO Report published “Achieving Interoperability in Healthcare,” a piece that serves as a short, yet powerful “how-to” for healthcare data experts working at a variety of levels. To better assess the given information, Becker’s share the interoperability best practices upsides, which include heightened visibility, streamlined operability, augmented finances, and more thorough clinical benefits.
Three key takeaways from “Achieving Interoperability in Healthcare:”
- Most working in healthcare still face substantial roadblocks when it comes to achieving interoperability.
- Healthcare providers must work together towards achieving a common goal.
- A vast majority of providers still use a closed-model system.
In “Achieving the Interoperability Promise of 21st Century Cures,” the Health Affairs blogs delves into the trials and successes experienced since interoperability has come into play in the public sector. The article outlines Congress’ Cures Act of 2016, which was enacted to speed up interoperability between the HHS and the ONC. Now several years out, Health Affairs gives its readers an update on how this change is going, and where they predict it will be in the future.
Three key takeaways from “Achieving The Interoperability Promise Of 21st Century Cures:”
- There are more than 100 regional health information exchanges and multiple national-level organizations that support the exchange of health information.
- Currently, experts are still finding limited transparency across networks due to a lack of participation.
- In order for this to be successful, anti-competitive practices must be adhered to.
In Software Advice’s “Are Patients Ready for EHR Interoperability?” writer Lisa Hedges takes a deep dive into the current statistics and trends surrounding the topic since it has hit the mainstream. In particular, Hedges lays out and assesses two of the initiatives biggest challenges: “patient concerns about data security and the software market’s limited advances in interoperability tech/capabilities.”
Key takeaways from “Are Patients Ready for EHR Interoperability?:”
- 77-percent of patients report feeling at least “very” or “moderately comfortable” with the idea of their health records being shared by any authorized person within their state.
- Heightened interoperability can stamp out unnecessary testing.
- Today’s patients prefer for their records to be shared electronically via a provider portal.
While a vast majority working in the healthcare field would be quick to agree that it will still be some time until the country reaches full EHR interoperability, most are not able to identify the reasons for it as eloquently as the Healthcare Business and Technology Blog. In this article, Elizabeth Buckle blames the roadblocks on there being “too many silos” within organizations, a series of communication breakdowns which prevent “the vision of true interoperability” from being achieved.
Key takeaways from “Breaking Down the Silos: How to Achieve EHR interoperability:”
- True interoperability requires constant communication between a host of different parties, not just doctor and patient.
- Healthcare providers must focus on investing in centralized, cloud-based networks.
- Systems should handle multiple forms of communication including “demographics, financial information, immunization records, appointment summaries, scheduling information, clinical documents, orders and test results.”
Continuum, CareCloud’s industry insight blog, recently took a deep dive into the many pitfalls of EHR interoperability in its article “EHR Interoperability: Why Is it So Difficult?” In the piece, we get a list of common challenges that providers face, but we also hear about the importance, and why interoperability must be at the forefront of change in the healthcare field. Dr. Farzad Mostashari, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is quoted as saying that EHR interoperability is the key to “better healthcare and lower costs,”
Key takeaways from “EHR Interoperability: Why Is It So Difficult?:”
- Larger companies are not investing as quickly as they should because they feel that business could be lost if they give their patients more transparency.
- There exists a clear lack of performance standards in the government-initiated program.
- One of the reasons that interoperability is so difficult is the natural fragmentation of vendors.
Yet another article that focuses in on the current struggles of interoperability is “EHRs: The Challenge of Making Electronic Data Useable and Interoperable.” The piece, which was published in the Pharmacy and Therapeutics journal by Miriam Reisman includes a host of shocking facts concerning the lack of existing interoperability in today’s practices. Reisman argues that there must be a “cultural change” in order for this massive undertaking to be successful.
Key takeaways from “EHRs: The Challenge of Making Electronic Data Usable and Interoperable:”
- Providers feel that the future of interoperability lies in the hands of the vendor community.
- A majority of small-practice physicians are concerned about the financial impacts of EHR upgrades.
- Current EHR incentives may not be attractive to all providers.
In AHIMA’s, “Fixing a Broken EHR: HIM Working in the Spotlight to Solve Common EHR Issues,” we get a holistic view into the interoperability-related hardware and software issues plaguing many of today’s providers. The article brings forth insight on the daily struggles of health information management providers (HIM), with many revealing an array of technical difficulties that point to a general lack of support within institutions. Writer Mary Butler aims to bring a spotlight to the weak points, and how they may be slowing the future of interoperability.
Key takeaways from “Fixing a Broken EHR: HIM Working in the Spotlight to Solve Common EHR Issues:”
- The HIM community regularly faces data issues which are either very difficult or impossible to correct.
- Because the systems are not working as they should be, some physicians fear that the communications errors are costing them face time with patients.
- Physicians utilize EHRs in a variety of ways, making it even more difficult for HIM to predict and fix problems.
Last summer, Nita K. Thingalaya MD and Arunkumar N. Badi MD, PhD penned a piece for Medical Economics entitled “Interoperability in EHR: The Medical Mine.” In it, the doctors reveal the daily reality of EHR implementation, in particular, that so many patients and providers have been left “dissatisfied” with the system. The writers explain this “dissatisfaction” by giving the history and standards of EHR, before divulging their opinion on the topic; in order to be successful, EHR must be driven by physician input ahead of anything else.
Key takeaways from “Interoperability in EHR: The Medical Mine:”
- Physicians want data to be interpreted in the clinical sense.
- The discord of data silos is slowing down the dream of achieving total interoperability.
- The ultimate goal is for patients to be able to connect with all relevant providers in one place.
At the end of 2018, Medpage Today published a report conducted by Mandy Rother of HealthLeader Media. The piece, which serves as an update for initial implementation, dispels some myths attached to EHR, chiefly that it has slowed down interoperability as a whole. On the flip side, Rother reveals that there has actually been quite a bit of progress made in recent years, particularly in the scenarios of hospitals that use interoperability in all four domains – sending, receiving, finding, and integrating.
Key takeaways from “Interoperability Issues? Most Blame EHR Integration:”
- Hospitals that engaged in all four areas of interoperability has increased by 41% in the last two years.
- 3 in 10 small, rural, and critical care hospitals can currently engage in all four areas.
- Many providers still struggle with interoperability timeliness, accessibility, and accuracy.
Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor for Healthcare Finance, penned the report “Interoperability Remains Limited, According to the National Academy of Medicine,” a piece which was written in the fall of 2018. The article reveals a host of troubling facts attached to the current state of EHR interoperability, with the most shocking being that a majority of clinicians are reporting “burnout” when it comes to implementation. This mainly attributed to the “growing requirements and regulatory compliance” put on providers, necessities that are contributing to an excess of extra work, time, and money.
Key takeaways from “Interoperability Remains Limited, According to the National Academy of Medicine:”
- Most providers still feel that heightened interoperability would lead to less testing errors.
- Providers struggle to share information in real time.
- Providers and vendors must work together to purchase software that can interoperate.
Dark Daily, an organization that supports clinical labs and pathology groups, recently published an exposé on the often-experienced frustrations regarding interoperability by providers, patients, vendors, and government entities. In the piece, writer Jon Stone explores why so many vendors are utilizing disparate practices and how these dissimilar investments and integrations have slowed down the dream of pure EHR interoperability.
Key takeaways from “Sorting through EHR Interoperability: A Modern Day Tower of Babel That Corrects Problems for Clinical Laboratories, Other Providers:”
- The average hospital interacts with 16 different EMR vendors in use at affiliate practices.
- CMS has paid out more than $38-billion in its EHR Incentive Program payments since April 2018.
- Physicians are banking on the fact that heightened interoperability will mean more diagnostic opportunities in the future.
In his piece for Verywell Health, “The Growing Importance of Health Data Interoperability,” Michael Rucker, PhD, MBA explores the various triumphs and pitfalls associated with EHR interoperability. Unlike many of the aforementioned articles, Rucker makes sure to highlight its many successes, and even includes thorough breakdowns for how these were achieved. There is also particular attention paid to how other countries are dealing with interoperability, mainly the ones that are experiencing positive results using the model.
Key takeaways from “The Growing Importance of Health Data Interoperability:”
- Developing and using common data models may be the key to overcoming the many EHR obstacles.
- Vendors may be more willing to cooperate if incentivized.
- Increasing EHR interoperability transparency will only lead to better healthcare.
In the fall of 2018, Luis Castillo, President and CEO of Ensocare penned a piece for Forbes entitled “The State of Interoperability in Healthcare.” In it, we get a well-rounded view of the various attitudes, benchmarks, and hard statistics surrounding the implementations in a wide range of practices and companies. Although Castillo admits that we still have “a long way to go” when it comes to achieving seamlessness, he still contends that, as a whole, the healthcare community is “getting there.”
Key takeaways from “The State Of Interoperability In Healthcare:”
- Castillo reports seeing many in the healthcare community “up for the task” of adopting interoperability.
- It will not be easily achieved unless providers embrace innovation.
- HIPAA regulations make achieving interoperability more difficult.
Those new to the topic of EHR interoperability would benefit from reading co-founder of Mobisoft Infotech, Ritesh Patil’s piece “What is Interoperability and Why is it Important for Healthcare,” published in the HealthWorks Collective Blog. The industry expert gives quick, yet thorough breakdowns of the main domains in interoperability – including technical interoperability and semantic interoperability – and how both function within the massive undertaking which is universal EHR implementation.
Key takeaways from “What Is Interoperability and Why Is It Important in Healthcare?”
- A classic example of synthetic interoperability is message protocol.
- Most systems engineers overlook the importance of semantic interoperability.
- 30-percent of healthcare costs are wasted on secondary testing exacerbated by a lack of communication between practices.
Writer Tom Sullivan didn’t hold back when he penned the article, “Why EHR Data Interoperability is Such a Mess In 3 Charts,” for Healthcare IT News. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the piece lists the many failures committed by providers since implementation, but it also provides real-life scenarios that led to them occurring in the first place. Like many other writers on this list, Sullivan points to the disparate systems utilized by vendors as one of the chief reasons why EHR interoperability is not where it should be today.
Key takeaways from “Why EHR Data Interoperability is Such a Mess in 3 Charts:”
- ONC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services must lead the drive toward interoperability.
- Innovation cannot commence until vendors and hospitals begin to play on the same team.
- There currently exists too many data sources for the patient to benefit from.
EHR Interoperability Blogs
AEGIS Insights is a straightforward, healthcare IT blog that focuses on providing readers with the leading stories that are shaping the HIM world today. In addition to EHR interoperability, AEGIS Insights also covers a host of pressing topics, including design and development, editorial insights, testing, and breaking news. To sweeten the deal, all readers can access an archive of articles dating back to 2008 for free.
Three posts we like from AEGIS Insights:
- AEGIS Engages with ONC FHIR Task Force
- Healthcare Interoperability Testing with FHIR Just Got Easier!
- Bipartisan Report Promotes Testing Tools and Standards for Interoperability
Allscripts, the massive firm that provides physician practices, hospitals, and other healthcare providers with practice management and electronic health record technology, publishes an Interoperability blog to its site. In it, readers will find a vast array of topics covered, including interoperability’s effect on government-run healthcare entities, interoperability abroad, and the state of interoperability within the VA system.
Three posts we like from Allscripts – Interoperability:
- Why health IT has failed patients
- The interoperable healthcare our Veterans deserve
- Why do clinicians resist interoperability?
CommonWell Health Alliance aims to bring heightened connectivity to all existing within the healthcare spectrum. In its Interoperability category, the company publishes editorials, interviews, and reports on the state of interoperability both in the United States and abroad. Additionally, information on educational opportunities, such as seminars and webinars is also regularly provided.
Three posts we like from CommonWell Health Alliance – Interoperability:
- 2018 Update: The Power of Many
- Patient Access: Putting My Binder Back on the Shelf
- The National Coordinator for Healthcare Information Technology Visits Beebe
Datica, a firm that focuses on cloud compliance and EHR integrations, publishes the Discovery EHR Integrations blog, which hosts a thorough guide and resources aplenty for the HIM and greater healthcare community. The guide is chock-full of important information for anyone currently dealing with implementation and integration, including explanations of HL7, FHIR, and much more.
Three posts we like from Datica Academy – EHR Integrations:
- Hospital and Healthcare Systems Integration Guide
- Joel Vegnco Shares His Thoughts on Integration
- Understanding HITRUST
Xtelligent Healthcare Media hosts a blog entitled EHR Intelligence. In it, readers are provided with a variety of different subjects, viewpoints, and reports from all corners of the healthcare community. In addition to insightful articles, the blog also regularly publishes whitepapers and even webcasts on the most pressing topics in EHR integration and compliance, including patient privacy, EPMI technology, predictive analysis, and more.
Three posts we like from EHR Intelligence – EHR Interoperability:
- Top 50 Most Popular Hospital Inpatient EHR Systems in the US
- CHIME Cites Lack of True Interoperability as Source of Health Costs
- New Sequoia Project Workgroup Zeroes In On Information Blocking
HeathCatalyst, a prominent healthcare analytics firm, publishes EMR Fit, a blog that is chock-full of articles containing useful information on everything from digital health to point of care digital best practices, and beyond. In addition to providing plenty of news, tips, and tricks, HealthCatalyst also pens informative posts about how their products can help providers out of the toughest interoperability binds.
Three posts we like from Health Catalyst – EMR Fit:
- EHR Integration: Achieving This Digital Health Imperative
- Healthcare Interoperability: New Tactics and Technology
- The Best Way to Optimize Physician Workflow
Health Data Management is a publication that lauds itself as being “the resource for healthcare IT leaders,” and for good reason – the blog is brimming with helpful, up-to-the-date news on anything and everything HIT-related. In its EHR page, Health Data Management focuses much of its effort on bringing breaking compliance and industry tips to readers, with new posts added to the archive nearly every day.
Three posts we like from Health Data Management – EHR:
- Lawmakers Voice Concerns About VA’s Plans for Cerner EHR
- UPMC Cuts Hospital Readmission Rates with ML Algorithm
- FDA Post-Market Drug Surveillance System to Tap EHR Data
Healthcare IT News, a global publication that publishes a variety of stories concerning the HIT sector, adds several posts a week to its Interoperability page. There, expert writers bring forth a number of breaking news topics, such as industry-related news, up-to-the-minute compliance changes, the latest training guides, and much more. The site even offers a daily newsletter which serves as a thorough briefing on all of the most important interoperability news.
Three posts we like from Healthcare IT News – Interoperability:
- What Healthcare CIOs Say They’re Focused on for 2019
- Sequoia Project Sets Sights on Info Blocking with New Workgroup
- Why Home Healthcare Workers Need Access to Hospital EHRs
HIT expert, John Moehrke operates the Healthcare Exchange Standards site, a blog that is filled with plenty of EHR interoperability news, tips, and suggestions. While Moehrke does a great job of including the latest in interoperability, he also keeps an archive that dates back all the way to 2009. There, fellow HIT experts can access free tips on all things integration and beyond.
Three posts we like from Healthcare Exchange Standards:
Xtelligent Healthcare Media’s HIT Infrastructure is a blog that regularly delivers the latest news in EHR interoperability, from industry shakeups to best practices and beyond. In addition to publishing several articles per week on the topic, HIT Infrastructure also holds regular webcasts that cover all of the most pressing hot topics in EHR.
Three posts we like from HIT Infrastructure:
- Hospitals Are at High Risk of Cyberattacks, Warns Moody’s
- Hasty EHR Integration Would Likely Fail, Warns BI Lahey CEO
- Early Phase EHR Adopters Focus on Health IT Infrastructure
Nextech, an EMR software provider that specializes in ophthalmology, plastic surgery, dermatology, and med spas, has a blog that publishes news and best practices for all of those dealing with interoperability. In addition to its archive of helpful articles, Nextech also provides white papers and ebooks on a wide range of HIT-related topics.
Three posts we like from Nextech Blog – Interoperability:
- Gaining Speed for MACRA Compliance
- Vice President Joe Biden Discusses Healthcare IT at Health Datapalooza
- Healthcare Data Growth: An Exponential Problem
The Health Care Blog is a publication that offers readers opinion and tech-based trending articles that hone in on all things HIT and beyond. Its Interoperability page is filled with articles, old and new, on the current state of EHR, as well as the major industry players who are shaping it. Those looking for an ‘unbranded’ approach to interoperability would find great value in this unique blog.
Three posts we like from The Health Care Blog – Interoperability:
- A New Pothole on the Health Interoperability Superhighway
- Defining Interoperability: An Interview with Grahame Grieve
- Health in 2 point 00, Episode 9
EHR Interoperability Organizations, Agencies & Working Groups
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ’s) Health Information Technology division is focused on making healthcare “safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and to work within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and with other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used.” AHRQ regularly invests in research grants and, to date, has awarded them to 289 institutions in almost every state within the US.
Key takeaways from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ):
- Offers clinical support resources for providers implementing interoperability practices.
- Offers up a host of free, online-based resources.
- The Health IT Portfolio Annual Report inspires the studying and reporting of evidence-based interoperability cases.
AHIMA describes itself as being “the premier association of health information management (HIM) professionals worldwide.” The organization has been in existence for nearly a century, which has allowed it to help mold interoperability standards and goals into what they are today. Members can benefit from receiving regular AHIMA-published newsletter, journals, credentials, and textbooks. The Association also holds live meetings nationwide which are conducted with the goal of bolstering existing EHR practices.
Key takeaways from AHIMA:
- AHIMA offers specialized certification opportunities for those working in HIM.
- The Association hosts regular webinars that detail the latest in EHR.
- Offers guidance on government healthcare privacy standards.
The American Immunization Registry Association (AIRA) is a nationwide organization that promotes immunizations and the digital record-keeping of them within the United States. Since AIRA is the loudest voice in this specific domain, it regularly creates written standards, such as documentation best practices and programming, which can be found in its Resource Repository.
Key takeaways from the American Immunization Registry Association:
- AIRA promotes partnerships training, and resource development in the area of immunizations.
- The organization is constantly working with providers, software companies, and vendors to ensure that all digital information is rightfully recorded and shared.
- Members include healthcare professionals from nearly all 50 states.
AMIA was founded 35 years ago with the mission of bringing together the best and brightest in informatics. Since its start, the area has grown exponentially and AMIA has served as a facilitator and benchmarker for those working in HIT, particularly in the field of EHR interoperability. AMIA continually hosts meetings, events, and even massive conferences that educate, inform, and promote the latest guidelines, technologies, and changing standards.
Key takeaways from AMIA:
- AMIA currently has 5,600+ members encompassing everything from government, consulting, education, and beyond.
- The organization has developed a distance-learning program called AMIA 10 x 10.
- Works to update members on important public policy changes.
Connected Care Watch, formerly HIE Watch, is an online-based organization that delivers free resources to the HIT community, many of which tackle the more complex topics within EHR interoperability, such as security, privacy, and various legal constraints. Its ‘Perspectives’ page attracts an array of industry leaders who speak candidly on the most pressing issues facing the HIT industry today.
Key takeaways from Connected Care Watch:
- Offers free newsletters, white papers, guides, and more.
- Free registration for new members.
- Provides a range of case studies concerning all aspects of interoperability.
The Electronic Health Network Accreditation Commission, better known as EHNAC, describes itself as being “an independent, federally recognized, standards development organization and tax-exempt, 501(c)(6) non-profit accrediting body designed to improve transactional quality, operational efficiency and data security in healthcare.” The Commission, which was first founded in 1993, focuses most of its efforts on standards development, particularly in the fairly new frontier of interoperability. Currently, EHNAC provides accreditation and compliance with HIPAA, HITECH, ARRA, and the Affordable Healthcare Act,
Key takeaways from EHNAC (Electronic Health Network Accreditation Commission):
- EHNAC provides a free videos resource center for all members and non-members.
- Offers a referrals program for all members.
- Includes consultancy and advisory services for the healthcare community.
HealthIT.gov’s Interoperability resource section is focused on providing the healthcare community with the standards, education, and information needed to reach full compliance. Providers and vendors new to EHR interoperability would benefit most from viewing the ONC’s current roadmap document, one that gives timelines, regulatory compliance, guidelines, and other pertinent information.
Key takeaways from HealthIT.gov Interoperability:
- Publishes a free-to-listen-to webinar series.
- Lays out all goals which should be achieved prior to 2020.
- Provides in-depth information on interoperability as it relates to Medicaid.
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) includes within it a division known as the Interoperability and Health Information Exchange. This web-based forum provides plenty of useful information for members and non-members alike, including an interoperability toolkit, an HIE toolkit, a variety of white papers, federal resources, standards listings, and much more.
Key takeaways from HIMSS Interoperability and Health Information Exchange:
- The Interoperability Tool Kit includes an updated implementation guide that takes the newest standards into account.
- The HIMSS Interoperability Community is filled with experts that regularly gather together to swap ideas and innovate.
- HIMSS hosts regular roundtable discussions that focus in on everything interoperability-related.
HL7 International, otherwise known as Health Level Seven International, describes itself as being “a not-for-profit, ANSI-accredited standards developing organization dedicated to providing a comprehensive framework and related standards for the exchange, integration, sharing, and retrieval of electronic health information that supports clinical practice and the management, delivery and evaluation of health services.” The organization, which boasts 1,600+ members worldwide, offers plenty of resources in the form of standards-training, events, certification opportunities, and much more.
Key takeaways from HL7 International:
- Offers a variety of standards views that are updated regularly to fit the ever-changing world of interoperability.
- Provides free procedure guidelines for members and non-members alike.
- Provides all levels of training opportunities.
Markle describes itself as a “public-private collaboration aiming to improve people’s health & advance healthcare quality in the United States through health IT innovations.” Since the organization spans both the public and private sectors, it is able to provide some of the most holistic views into the world of interoperability standardization, guidelines, and implementation. Currently, Markle aims to strengthen national security as it relates specifically to healthcare IT.
Key takeaways from Markle:
- Key accomplishments include the Markle Common Framework and the Blue Button.
- The Markle Advisory Committee developed the Connecting for Health Common Framework Policies in Practice for Health Information Sharing through a collaborative process.
- Its Blue Button technology is in use at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and major insurers and pharmacies
Ringholm, a standards and commercial training courses firm based in the Netherlands, provides product, vendor, and standard-independent educational opportunities for those working with a host of interoperability standards, including HL7, DICOM, Edifact, CDA, xDT, and XML. Ringholm offers a vast array of consultancy services, facilitates global events, and regularly updates its whitepapers and blogs pages for the most up-to-date interoperability help possible.
Key takeaways from Ringholm:
- Administers several one to two-day training courses on a number of standards.
- All courses are available throughout Europe or on-site.
- Ringholm’s website hosts dozens of white papers.
The much-talked-about Sequoia Project is one of the newest and most powerful players in the non-profit interoperability community. Founded in 2012, the organization aims to support the interoperability of providers working within the latest government initiatives, including the eHealth Exchange and Carequality, which have been managed by the Sequoia Project for the past four years.
Key takeaways from The Sequoia Project:
- In 2018, the Seqioua Project announced the support of various independent initiatives, most of which deal with interoperability within government-based healthcare endeavors.
- Offers free presentations and webinars.
- Provides in-depth information on the Cures Act.
The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) was first formed in 1991 by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and has been a HIPAA legislation advisor since 1996. Currently, the organization focuses much of its efforts on ensuring that providers, vendors, and patients are adhering to all relevant privacy standards as they move further into the world of broadened interoperability.
Key takeaways from Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI):
- WEDI is one of the nation’s largest authorities on HIT.
- The organization regularly holds large conferences, webinars, and other educational opportunities across the country.
- Premium members gain unlimited access to events, white papers, newsletters, and more.
EHR Interoperability White Papers, Reports & Presentations
The Healthcare Leadership Council and the Bipartisan Policy Center penned the guide “Advancing Interoperability, Information, Sharing, and Data Access: Improving Health and Healthcare for Americans” at the very beginning of 2019. In it, both organizations detail the newest methods that all providers, vendors, and patients must carry out in order to achieve their aim of creating and supporting a fully interoperable health care system.
Key takeaways from Advancing Interoperability, Information Sharing, and Data Access: Improving Health and Healthcare for Americans:
- Although the government has attempted to accelerate interoperability, it is not yet where it should be.
- Incentives must be aligned between payer and providers.
- Common notices of information access should be created and distributed immediately.
In its Final Version 1.0 of the “Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap,” the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) provides a thorough timeline and framework for EHR interoperability adoption for all players working within the American healthcare community. Included in the guidelines are data formatting standards, privacy compliance information, and the latest on accountability.
Key takeaways from Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap:
- There is a clear delineation between data formats and semantics which must be globally recognized.
- Outcomes include success measurements for those working at all levels of HIT.
- Updated information on patient rights, privacy, and access.
In another important report, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology provides a data update geared towards all non-federal acute care hospitals operating within the United States. The 15-page brief includes a range of responses from all hospitals polled as they reveal their various progressions in interoperability adoption.
Key takeaways from Data Update: Interoperability Among U.S. Non-federal Acute Care Hospitals:
- Hospitals conducting all four domains of interoperability had 2 times higher rates of information electronically available from outside providers as the national average.
- Most commonly, practices who do not utilize electronic patient information are those who do not have it available as part of the clinician’s workflow.
- Currently, a majority of hospitals are sending and receiving information to/from providers and sources outside their hospital system. About half are querying patient data from outside sources.
In this 2017 powerpoint presentation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Center for Program Integrity (CPI) gives an overview of the successes and failures of its interoperability program. All data presented in this particular presentation uses a patient representative to illustrate interoperability as it relates to home health care. This designation allowed for a range of vendors, hospitals, and other facilities to be assessed.
Key takeaways from EMDI Overview 2017 – CMS:
- CPI found that additional validation steps should be put into place by some facilities to ensure compliance, privacy, etc.
- EDMI’s overarching goal is to use interoperability to improve general healthcare standards.
- Messaging data standards include X12, HL7, and FHIR.
DirectTrust’s 2017 white paper, “Feature and Function Recommendations to the HIT Industry to Optimize Clinician Usability of Direct Interoperability to Enhance Patient Care,” is a document that analyzes the reasons why so many physicians and other providers seem to be failing in interoperability adoption processes. In realizing this, the organization surveyed a group of physicians who are proven to be successful at interoperability and had them review various EHR software options for efficacy and usability.
Key takeaways from Feature and Function Recommendations to the HIT Industry to Optimize Clinician Usability of Direct Interoperability to Enhance Patient Care:
- All physicians review EHR software direct messaging functions.
- Many of the surveyed software options failed to reveal important patient data, such as allergies, in the direct messaging function.
- Reconciliation using discrete data via Direct can dramatically save clinicians time and patient lives and decreases costs.
HIMSS provides a wide range of interoperability-related whitepapers, dealing with hot topics, such as Surescripts, interoperable care, enterprise data management strategies, RFID/RTLS system integrations, and much more. Some white papers even include patient and physician stories which are provided in hopes that the HIT community can better understand the needs of both parties.
Key takeaways from HIMSS Interoperability Showcase™ Whitepapers:
- Interoperability can support prescription drug monitoring programs.
- Specialized software can help stamp out “alarm fatigue.”
- Interoperability can reduce readmissions in the chronically ill.
In the Carestream white paper entitled “Interoperability: Connecting the Healthcare Enterprise to Deliver Responsive Patient Care,” we get a thorough introduction and case as to why interoperability can help inform and empower patients. In it, we learn that everything from clinical data formats to vendor information and response must be constantly updated and supported in order for patients to benefit from the adoption of the Clinical Collaboration Program.
Key takeaways from Interoperability: Connecting the Healthcare Enterprise to Deliver Responsive Patient Care:
- The Clinical Collaboration Platform works with clinical data in all major formats, including JPG, MOV, MP4, PDF, CCD and ECG. Even from mobile devices.
- The enterprise repository can serve as a vendor-neutral archive for your existing systems or as part of the full Clinical Collaboration Platform.
- The Clinical Collaboration Platform supports departments with or without existing PACS and using DICOM or non-DICOM interfaces.
Procuring Interoperability: Achieving High-Quality, Connected, and Person-Centered Care, a special publication of the National Academy of Science, is a document that provides the important case for interoperability as it relates to patient and physician communication, specifically. The publication explores data exchange throughout three environments: facility-to-facility (macro-tier); intra-facility (meso-tier); and at point-of-care (micro-tier).
Key takeaways from Procuring Interoperability: Achieving High-Quality, Connected, and Person-Centered Care:
- A free webinar is available on the topic.
- All facilities should have their own interoperability roadmaps.
- Government-based strategies must be updated to reflect the changing needs of the healthcare community.
“Variation in Interoperability among U.S. Non-federal Acute Care Hospitals in 2017,” a report conducted by the ONC reveals the various levels of progression made by these facilities since the widespread mandated adoption of EHR interoperability. The paper reveals trends, as well as all areas in which the proposed benchmarks have failed due to lack of compliance, funding, and more.
Key takeaways from Variation in Interoperability among U.S. Non-federal Acute Care Hospitals in 2017:
- Hospitals that engaged in all four interoperability domains increased by 41 percent since 2016
- Small, rural and CAHs increased their rates of engagement in four interoperability domains by 50 percent between 2016 and 2017.
- Only eight percent of hospitals did not perform any of the four interoperability domains.
“You Deserve Better: Considerations for Successful Interoperability” is a white paper geared towards providers struggling in the first stages of EHR interoperability adoption. The guide includes federal guidelines and benchmarks, statistics on provider adoption, and tips for those in the process of implementation.
Key takeaways from You Deserve Better: Considerations for Successful Interoperability:
- A high percentage of providers are concerned about the cost of implementation.
- 95-percent agree that successful interoperability will mean better care for the patient.
- In 2018-2020, providers should expand data sources and users in the interoperable health IT ecosystem to improve health and lower costs.