Interoperability in healthcare refers to the ability of different IT systems and applications to communicate, exchange, and interpret shared data with one another. Interoperability allows health information systems to work together across organizational boundaries, leading to more effective healthcare delivery, better patient outcomes, and a host of other health-related benefits. Outlined below are five of these key benefits.
1. Increases productivity and reduces costs
The productivity of medical staff can be significantly hindered without system interoperability. Research from Ponemon Institute revealed clinicians waste an average of more than 45 minutes each day due to the use of outdated communication technologies, costing U.S. hospitals more than $8.3 billion a year in total. As well as improving communications, interoperability means mountains of paper documents can be replaced with digital information, which is significantly easier to log, access, and store. The digitization of data also facilitates better security standards, which helps to ensure patients’ sensitive information remains protected.
2. Better public health data
In an ideal world every healthcare organization would be interoperable with one another, creating a network of shared data across North America, which can be used to predict long-term health trends. Interoperable digital health technologies facilitate faster, more accurate collection of public health data, which can be interpreted and used for this very purpose.
3. Reduced errors
The integration of digital programs and applications facilitates a better flow of information, which leads to improved efficiency and faster patient health outcomes. Interoperability also reduces the need for manual data input, which frees up time, minimizes errors, and alleviates illegibility issues caused by poor handwriting. Therefore, as long as data is entered correctly at the beginning, organizations stand a higher chance of securely holding accurate PHI for its entire life cycle.
4. Improves patient privacy
When organizations do not know exactly where patient data exists in every instance, privacy breaches become an inevitability. No one can guarantee a scribbled note containing PHI will be discarded correctly and not clumsily placed at the top of a full trash can in a waiting room, for example. Conversely, when clinical staff input sensitive data via a secure device on an interoperable network, they can be confident that their patients’ PHI will be protected.
5. Improves the patient experience
The overall patient experience has the potential to improve significantly within an interoperable healthcare environment, as the amount of care and attention they receive from their care teams will increase. Professionals will be spending less time processing data, and more time analyzing it to understand their patients’ needs.