Electronic Health Record (EHR) interoperability is a concept that has been around for some time now, but the Cures Act Final Rule has increased its popularity even further. One of the main reasons for this growth in popularity is that providers who are not compliant with the new rules risk being marked as information blockers, a violation that attracts as much as $1M in civil penalties.
This article will enlighten you on healthcare interoperability the challenges that you are likely to face when trying to enforce it, and their solutions.
What is healthcare interoperability?
Healthcare interoperability refers to the access, integration, use, and transfer of electronic health data in a timely and secure way. A lack of interoperability can cause problems such as incompletely understanding a patient’s health needs which will, in turn, lead to poorer outcomes, higher costs, or even serious threats to patient safety.
Therefore, it’s obvious that you need to ensure interoperability, not only to be compliant but also to ensure good healthcare results.
Besides, engaging healthcare software engineering for interoperability challenges can help you overcome the issues associated with interoperability, guaranteeing good results when you employ it.
Challenges of healthcare interoperability and their solutions
You’ll come across various challenges in your journey toward interoperability. Thankfully, software engineering offers great solutions, as you’ll see below.
1. Managing information across different sources
One of the greatest challenges that is especially quite common in large health networks is inconsistent information. With data being spread throughout multiple locations, the healthcare experts who need it often have to spend hours searching and harmonizing the data so that they can use it to inform certain processes.
Have a unified network and system interface with centralized data storage. A uniform EHR system makes it easier to store and share information without losing its integrity over time.
2. Resistance to sharing data
This is a common problem even outside the healthcare industry. In healthcare, the most common challenge when it comes to sharing data occurs between hospitals and urgent care clinics. That’s because these two healthcare players compete a lot for patients.
So if a request is sent by an urgent healthcare clinic to a hospital, there won’t be enough collaboration in the best interests of the patient.
Have a system that makes data available to the right healthcare players all the time, rather than certain entities choosing when to send data into the network. While you may need some buy-in across different players in the healthcare network, the law, specifically the Cures Act’s provision will provide the much-needed push to make this work.
3. Data security and privacy concerns
In a highly digitized healthcare system, it can be quite challenging to guarantee the security and privacy of healthcare data. There have to be reliable measures to ensure that electronic requests for patient information are valid to avoid data breaches and misuse.
Software engineers can enforce data encryption techniques, ensure secure authentication mechanisms, and facilitate adherence to industry standards like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). In certain cases, there has to be a third party that facilitates communication and verifies data requests.
4. Legacy systems and infrastructure
There are lots of situations where healthcare providers use legacy systems and outdated infrastructure that does not support interoperability. Such systems and infrastructure lack the ability to work with APIs and support modern data exchange standards, for example.
Adopting middleware solutions or interfaces that bridge the gaps between newer and older healthcare applications. This is an easier and less time-consuming process compared to directly integrating legacy systems with newer applications.
Achieve interoperability for better service provision
The above are just some of the challenges that you may face when trying to achieve interoperability in your healthcare organization, and their solutions.
There are lots of other challenges, but you can overcome that by working with experienced software engineers from a provider like KMS. So reach out to a reliable healthcare software engineering services provider and achieve interoperability with ease.