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IT More Upbeat Than Clinicians About Healthcare Interoperability

More than three-quarters of IT and tech leaders judged their healthcare interoperability efforts as excellent or good, but fewer than half of clinicians had the same opinion.

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Source: Getty Images

By Fred Donovan

- More than three-quarters of IT and tech leaders judged their healthcare interoperability efforts as excellent or good, but fewer than half of clinicians had the same opinion.

Around one-third of respondents to a survey conducted by HIMSS media for Hyland Healthcare reported the highest level of healthcare interoperability, with two or more systems exchanging, interpreting, and using exchanged data. Around 145 healthcare professionals representing IT, business, and clinical roles within provider organizations responded to the survey.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents said optimizing clinical workflows was their top goal for healthcare interoperability, 61 percent said improving communication and coordination of care was their top interoperability goal, 59 percent said meeting regulatory compliance requirements was their top interoperability goal, 54 percent said improving patient satisfaction was their top interoperability goal, and 45 percent said enabling employees to make faster decisions was their top interoperability goal.

Two-thirds of respondents said integrating new IT products with legacy systems was a key barrier to interoperability, 56 percent said integrating data for multiple EHRs was a key barrier, 56 percent said managing unstructured data was a key obstacle, 55 percent said employee resistance to adopting new solutions was a key barrier, and 42 percent said keeping pace with patient expectations was a key barrier.

An average of 66 percent of the unstructured data in healthcare enterprises is inaccessible/unavailable for patient care decisions.

“Hyland Healthcare is focused on creating a truly connected care experience for patients and providers, delivering the right information to the right people when and where they need it. Interoperability is key to achieving that goal, so this survey provides critical information on the challenges we can address with our customers,” said Hyland VP of Global Healthcare Sales and Services Susan deCathelineau.

To improve interoperability, 58 percent said they are adopting or plan to adopt an enterprise imaging strategy, 74 percent are leveraging or plan to leverage an electronic health information exchange, 64 percent are leveraging or plan to leverage natural language processing/voice recognition, 75 percent are moving or plan to move to a single EHR platform, and 65 percent are integrating or plan to integrate point-of-care imaging and workflows.

A panel moderated by Tom Daschle, former Senate Democratic Leader, at the HIMSS19 conference last week examined the issue of healthcare interoperability.

Daschle said that “information sharing is essential not only to improve care for individuals but also laying the foundation for payment and delivery reforms that reward better outcomes. In addition, it is increasingly recognized as a vital element of the efforts to improve population health.”

One focus of the discussion was a report released by the Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) and the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), which Daschle cofounded. The report called for action to improve interoperability focused on bringing data to the point of care to support care delivery and meet the information needs of individuals to support their healthcare.

HLC President Mary Grealy said that the “time is here, the time is now to achieve full nationwide interoperability of health information and to have secure, seamless access to data for clinicians, patients and healthcare consumers.”

“Interoperability is critical if we are to reach our consensus goal of high-value, high-quality, safe, cost-effective, patient-centered healthcare,” Grealy added. 

Change Healthcare President and CEO Neil de Crescenzo, who is also the HLC chairman, observed that the healthcare industry had reached a “tipping point” in terms of understanding the importance of healthcare data interoperability.

American College of Physicians EVP and CEO Darilyn Moyer told the panel that “practical interoperability is getting clinically relevant data to the point of care that is up to date and isn’t going to result in cognitive overload for the patient and those who are taking care of the patient.”

National Coordinator of Health Information Technology Don Rucker identified two key concepts in the ONC proposed rule and the HLC/BPC report: using standards-based APIs and guaranteeing security/privacy.

Rucker stressed that most of the interoperability work happens in the private sector. “I see the role of the ONC as smoothing out the rough spots … and as serving as a proxy for the patient in all of this,” he said.

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