Digital innovation has completely transformed the healthcare industry, but with so many different systems and devices available today, interoperability has never been more critical. Learn about interoperability in healthcare and how integrating technology can maximize clinical efficiency, quality, and collaboration between clinical teams.
Healthcare Interoperability: What It Is and Why It Matters
Interoperability enables information to flow seamlessly between different solutions and devices. A fitting analogy for interoperability is the ability for everyone to read a sheet of music. Regardless of the language you speak, you can read the same sheet of music because the way music is represented is standardized worldwide.
In the healthcare domain, we face a similar challenge. Each hospital, medical clinic, or medical office may have its own information system. And these systems don't always "speak" the same language, which is where interoperability comes into play.
Let’s consider an example: Imagine a family physician wants to communicate with a specialist in another practice, but they use two different solutions. While some solutions offer secure messaging capabilities, most cannot communicate with all other systems.
Instead of collaborating directly, providers in these scenarios often develop workarounds, such as using outdated technologies, including fax machines, to share information. In fact, a study found that only 34 percent of physicians can exchange patient clinical summaries due to fragmented systems and data, which impedes care transitions and information sharing.
Benefits and Barriers to Interoperability in Healthcare
There are numerous benefits to achieving interoperability in healthcare, such as:
- Improving communication between multiple providers
- Encouraging collaboration between patients and providers
- Providing patients with access to their health information
- Breaking down data silos that impede quality and efficiency
- Reducing clinical inefficiencies within the healthcare system
Each of these benefits ultimately leads to greater care quality and efficiency and, in turn, better patient outcomes and population health. However, despite the clear benefits of achieving interoperability in healthcare, there are still challenges and hurdles to overcome. Those include:
- Financial barriers, including the cost of development and a need for better payment models for physicians
- Technical barriers, including lack of data integrity, poor end-user experience, and failure to reach an agreement on data standards
- Trust or legal barriers, including patient privacy concerns and data blocking
Fortunately, the right integrated technology can help healthcare organizations address and eliminate barriers to ensure seamless interoperability.
Maximizing Efficiency and Collaboration with Technology
Adopting a digital front door solution offers numerous benefits to address interoperability challenges and help maximize clinical efficiency and care coordination. Using a digital front door, healthcare systems can:
Integrate personal, clinical, and lifestyle data.
Data integration provides a holistic picture of a patient's health, enabling more precise care decisions. With comprehensive and up-to-date patient information, doctors can make more informed decisions, reducing the risk of medical errors or gaps in care.
Improve care quality and the patient experience.
When systems communicate seamlessly with each other, each patient can easily access their medical history and become more in tune with their own care. This ability—coupled with personalized, high-quality care from providers—improves the patient experience and contributes to better health outcomes.
Streamline patient management workflows.
Integration and automation help eliminate manual work and silos caused by disparate systems that don’t work together effectively. This lessens the administrative burden on healthcare providers, streamlining patient management workflows and reducing burnout.
Enhance communication and care coordination.
Healthcare interoperability strengthens care coordination and collaboration across providers. Rather than relying on faxes or playing phone tag, providers can communicate and coordinate across specialties with ease. As an added bonus, a digital front door with secure messaging also improves patient-provider communication. It’s a win-win!
Interoperability at Akinox: About Our Approach
At Akinox, we understand how crucial interoperability is in healthcare—and we’re committed to integrating our solutions across silos and existing workflows.
We participated in the March 2023 Projectathon project, which had the goal of testing and improving the quality of pan-Canadian interoperability specifications. We registered as a data client and successfully completed all tests, investing time and development effort. The tests included sending Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) data to servers, validating Canadian and Ontario specifications, and authenticating as an auth client.
In fact, the Projectathon allowed us to collaborate with five Canadian companies and Canada Health Infoway to build an interoperability standard that aligns with the specificities of different provinces. This is just one example of how we’re working alongside other organizations to improve pan-Canadian interoperability.
We’re also committed to developing solutions that connect with various systems and workflows. Seamless integrations to Health Level Seven, FHIR, SOAP, REST, and GraphQL ensure patient data can easily be exchanged between providers to guarantee care quality and continuity.
Have questions about our approach or our solutions? Book a consultation to learn more about interoperability at Akinox.