How HIEs Can Achieve Interoperability
Health information exchange (HIE) can be a great way to improve patient care. Keep reading to learn how HIEs can achieve interoperability.
Even now, most healthcare providers use paper files to store patient information.
But interoperability of health information exchange technologies (HIEs) can transform healthcare. And it’s more achievable than ever.
Meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs) is a challenge for most providers. Patients often interact with more than one provider. This may result in disparate patient data that can get in the way of proper care.
“Meaningful use” is the use of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. It can improve data sharing abilities for providers.
Inability to perform meaningful use can slow down other processes. These include claims processing, affordability, efficiency, government-level interactions, and even patient safety. So, why aren’t providers agreeing to adopt HIEs?
The Latent Difficulties with HIEs
For years, providers did not have access to their patients’ previous medical data. This stopped them from providing proper care. For example, a doctor might treat a patient using medicine to which that patient will not respond. If the patient is not aware of this fact, he or she could go weeks without proper treatment.
There are two great complications when adopting HIEs. The first is disparity in patient data. The second is acquiring technologies for managing that data from organization to organization.
Meaningful use requires interoperability between at least two hospitals. Successful HIE implementation requires widespread use. This allows patients to move between providers without interruption to coverage or care.
Discrepancy Between Organizations
Other industries have unified technologies and data standards. Healthcare providers do not all share data standards, even on a hospital-to-hospital basis. State-operated hospitals may not have the same types of EHRs as for-profit hospitals. They might not even share them among themselves.
Professionals in different roles must be able to interact with patient data. This includes medical staff, policy makers, analysts, patient advocates, and patients themselves. Otherwise, healthcare organizations cannot achieve meaningful use.
Pushing Forward the HIE Agenda
Policy makers at state and federal levels are launching databases. They will cover the needs of patients and providers. The systems will collect patient data, claims data, and others. This will support interoperability between providers. They can access patient information in a meaningful way. They can improve claims processes, patient care, and others as well.
Four Steps to Interoperability
But how can they achieve interoperability between HIEs in a timely way? The odds appear to be against them. But healthcare organizations can achieve interoperability with the following four steps.
1. Meet Stage 1 Meaningful Use Standards
Meaningful use is the foundation of HIE interoperability. Hospitals and eligible professionals (EPs) must adopt certified HER technology. Then they must prove their capabilities. They can do this by meeting criteria specified by Health IT. There are three stages to the process. It begins with data capture and sharing. Improving processes and patient outcomes comes next.
Some providers struggle with meaningful use standards while pursuing Stage 2. This calls on providers to give more data resources to patients. New technology requirements can be costly for some providers. They can be difficult to launch on an organizational basis as well.
Providers can familiarize themselves with data exchange practices at the state level. Providers can partner with a management consultant. A consultant can help them realize organizational objectives such as Stage 1.
2. Prepare Your Data
Organizations can determine what types of data to share through cooperation. Providers and others must decide what types of data will allow for meaningful use. Providers need usable data they can apply to patient care. Some automated systems send alerts to parties about patient care. These systems need specific types of data as well.
Healthcare organizations must apply strict standards when pursuing interoperability. They must carry out data security standards based on policy requirements. They should follow security standards that apply to their exchanges. This includes compliance with HIPPA and the HITECH Act. These policies set guidelines for meaningful use of healthcare technology.
3. Testing Operability and Interoperability
The next stage of preparation involves testing software. Healthcare organizations must ensure the software is ready for interoperability. They must also ensure that new data profiles work within their system. These data profiles must meet the specifications of HIEs. This involves ensuring an HIE exchanges information with other systems. Only then can they provide other parties with actionable information.
Some states also call for healthcare organizations to report all patient data. These organizations must test their readiness to provide data that meets regulatory standards.
4. Launching HIEs
Complete HIEs will support meaningful use for all connected parties in the system. Healthcare providers can then locate patient records with enough data to provide care. The data should not lack any important patient information.
The systems should also enable analysts to observe trends in the data. Policy makers must be able to access data for legislative purposes as well. More interoperable organizations will add more valuable data. This data will also become accessible to all levels of the healthcare system.
In 2017, the Texas Hospital Association launched a bold data-sharing effort. The system is helping them deliver more value-focused payment models to patients. According to Fernando Martinez, Ph.D., SVP and CDO of the Texas Hospital Association:
“There’s a much greater [goal] we should be seeking as an industry. To build these value-based models… we need to get better at identifying our patients. Doing so will speed up this work, and improve the value of care.”
The Next Step in the Evolution of HIEs
Healthcare organizations will bring together all data as part of a single exchange. There are countless practical applications for this using modern technologies. Organizations can integrate predictive analytics, for example. This helps them predict patient readmissions, ER visits, and risks of heart attack.
Some expect a future where providers and researchers can study thousands of EHRs in sum. This would enable them to identify patterns in patient ailments. Then they could improve care and prevention on a greater scale.
Move Forward with AIM
At Advances in Management (AIM), we understand the challenges of HIE adoption. You can start your successful transformation with our healthcare management services. Contact AIM to learn more.