The path to improved healthcare interoperability
Hospitals are well on their way toward achieving more effective interoperability. About 70 percent of facilities surveyed by the American Hospital Association report that they can integrate data into their electronic health record (EHR) system from outside sources. Additionally, more than half of surveyed hospitals say they’re successful across all four domains of interoperability — electronically sending, receiving, finding and integrating patient health information.
Nonetheless, hospitals need to overcome several technological challenges as they work to further enable interoperability:
- Paper faxes persist. Faxing accounts for an estimated 75 percent of all medical communication. The prevailing use case is record-sharing, which means that voluminous paper records need to be manually entered in the hospital’s EHR after receipt.
- Workarounds abound. Many hospitals rely on point-to-point solutions to connect with specific entities (e.g., labs) and custom-coded interfaces for certain clinical applications. Connections between EHR systems sometimes use outdated versions of information-exchange standards.
- Unstructured data must be mapped. Most patient information comes from unstructured sources such as paper records, free-form text within EHRs, scanned documents and medical images. Information exchange depends on the accurate mapping of unstructured data to the appropriate fields in a patient’s record.
- Record requests overburden physicians. When using EHR systems, doctors spend nearly one-third of their time tending to inbox notifications showing that requested records have been received. Providers shouldn’t have to take time away from patient visits or extend their own workday in order to keep pace with information exchange.
- Interfaces can be points of unauthorized entry. Hospitals that have implemented self-developed interfaces to facilitate information exchange often leave themselves vulnerable to cyberattacks. One analysis found susceptibility to interception of data between communicating parties, unauthorized access to patient data and lack of database segmentation.
Emerging solutions based on natural language processing and artificial intelligence are helping hospitals work through these interoperability barriers. The latest technology seamlessly brings unstructured data into patient records while making the necessary connections that allow data exchange throughout the care continuum.
Learn more about building an intelligent data exchange strategy.