Modern healthcare has seen important developments in recent years, but it has also become more fragmented. This can be a problem for patient care, and sharing information between medical facilities is of paramount importance for making sure the medical community is as connected as possible.
With computers, the new challenge has become how to exchange information in a way that is cohesive across different software and computer programs. Data interoperability is essential for making sure health records, clinical research and other important metrics and information can be accessed effectively.
Happe-Xchange by Tangible Solutions allows medical professionals across networks to share data of all types, leading to a better way to connect care centers and exchange information.
The pillars of interoperability
According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, interoperability has three main pillars that define a successful information exchange system. There are many different programs and types of software that attempt to share data across different computer networks, and to be successful they must deliver on each of the following.
HIMSS reported that the first aspect of a data sharing platform is that should have “foundational interoperability.” That means that a program can serve as an effective means of exchanging digital information between different computer programs and networks without outside technologies. For medical data to be fully interoperable, it needs to be able to be shared in a way that does not require decoding or interpretation by a host computer. A system is fully interoperable if data can be shared from one computer to another without any delay or intermediate software.
“Data must be intact for a system to be truly interoperable.”
A data exchange system should also have “structural interoperability,” according to HIMSS. In the same way that information should be able to be shared without any logistic obstructions or third party programs, data interoperability is only successful if the syntax of the information being shared is not compromised. The meaning and purpose of the data must be intact for a system to be truly interoperable on a structural level.
The final key feature of a data exchange system is that the information shared does not lose meaning along the way, which HIMSS calls “semantic interoperability.” Not only must data and images be shared in a way that they are not altered, but digital health records and other information must be shared such that the original content is not compromised.
Overall, systems are fully interoperable if they can share data safely and efficiently, which can have significant benefits for the healthcare industry.
The importance of interoperability
Effectively sharing and storing patient information has enormous implications across healthcare. For example, the Journal of the American Medical Association found that emergency rooms without access to digital health records struggle to treat unconscious patients or anyone who may not otherwise be able to share important information, such as previous ailments or allergies. Solutions that improve a doctor’s ability to recall patient records could be very helpful, especially in rural hospitals.
According to Healthcare IT News, however, some care centers currently use programs that are ineffective at sharing and collecting patient data, which is arguably no better than having no data exchange software at all. Selecting the right partner for digital solutions is critical for hospitals looking to improve patient outcomes.
Happe Xchange connects care providers across the industry in a way that ensures data is fully interoperable. Important information can be recalled by any number of care centers or institutions, which can be very helpful for medical professionals.
For example, Happe Xchange can connect a hospital or physician with any number of specialty doctors or clinics while maintaining the integrity and accessibility of the information shared. A patient’s record can be exchanged digitally from a radiologist to a patient’s primary care facility, or across the country to a hospital or accountable care organization. In this way, care providers can treat patients with the confidence of a full medical record.
Data interoperability extends beyond a hospital’s walls, and can improve the capabilities of medical researches as well. In research, many types of studies are compromised by a limited sample size, but using an information exchange system allows medical professionals to collaborate and share outcomes of trials and research in a way that can bolster new techniques or shine light on ineffective ones.
Happe Xchange allows medical researchers to access information such as demographic data, immunization records and lab results from other labs, clinical registries or universities. Not only does this aid in medical research, but this kind of connectivity also benefits doctors and physicians looking to make a complicated or rare diagnosis.
Overall, the proliferation of information sharing in healthcare has many applications, and for that reason ensuring that data is fully interoperable across facilities and networks is critical for maximizing these new endeavors and empowering the medical community.