Interoperability Progress? Not So Much According to a Recent Report

For a few years now, the term interoperability has become a popular one in the healthcare technology industry. Regarded as the ultimate goal of government organizations for healthcare IT, it seems as if any decisions made by CMS or other organizations were made with improving interoperability as the main factor.

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So one would assume that after years of aiming to improve interoperability between EMR systems, that it would be improving, right?

According to the KLAS 2017 Interoperability Report, not much progress has been made. Although more physicians are engaging in "deep interoperability" than in prior years, the report discovered that most providers are still not finding success with interoperability.

Those noting "deep interoperability" has more than doubled from last year's report (6% to 14% in 2017), however, 86% of respondents are still not operating at "deep interoperability", a statistic that is concerning to KLAS vice president of provider relations, Bob Cash.

“We did see tremendous progress in access [to data], and I find that really interesting,” Cash said in an article on Healthcare Informatics. “So the opportunity for deep interoperability has increased, and that’s good news. The bad news is that it has not translated readily into an impact on care. And the most obvious reason for that is that people are frustrated that the data they are getting is not as useful as it could be. There is either too much, too little, or it’s unwieldy. So the challenge is now getting that information into a form that is useful."

RELATED: Interoperability Remains a Stumbling Block for Hospitals

Per Healthcare Informatics, KLAS has defined "deep interoperability" as follows:

As defined by KLAS executives, “An organization is counted as having reached ‘deep interoperability’ if they indicate one of two optimal responses in all four interoperability stages. The deep interoperability rate refers to the percent of interviewed organizations within each vendor’s customer base that (1) often or nearly always have access to needed data through any interoperable means; (2) are able to easily locate specific patient records or have them automatically presented to clinicians; (3) have the retrieved patient data fully integrated into the EHR’s (electronic health records) native data fields or in a separate tab or section within the EHR; and (4) believe retrieved patient data often or nearly always benefits patient care to the extent that it should.”

Providers aren't optimistic about the future prospects of interoperability, either. According to eHealth Initiative's 2017 Survey on Access to Patient Information, 71 percent of providers don't believe interoperability is achievable by 2020.

That isn't to say that providers don't believe in the benefits of interoperability. Many see how achieving interoperability will be crucial for healthcare organizations to practice value-based care and maintain success in the long-term. 

However, with no real solution yet to make a big difference, providers are losing confidence in interopability being able to happen, ultimately putting even more pressure on vendors and government organizations to produce a solution to this pestering issue.

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