Healthcare organizations have improved patient care in recent years through more efficient IT systems that allow the use of advanced technologies and greater access to information. Currently, an average hospital has over 100 systems that communicate with one another to ensure efficiency.
With the introduction of interoperability in healthcare, this has become much easier to accomplish. Interoperability, according to HMISS, is the extent to which systems and devices can access, exchange data, and interpret shared data inside a healthcare institution.
So what exactly are all the benefits of interoperability and why has it become a necessity?
Reduced medical errors and better patient safety
A study conducted by John Hopkins found that 45% of medical error deaths were preventable. If a healthcare facility creates and implements advanced interoperability, it can prevent these medical errors by capturing and interpreting data across all systems and applications.
Fatal errors occur when there isn’t enough patient history and their doctor doesn’t have all of the necessary information about factors such as their pre-existing conditions and allergies.
Even if a healthcare organization has great interoperability within their own enterprise, communication with external affiliates and systems might be impossible. With good interoperability, a care provider can analyze the decision-making process which leads to the medical error then eradicate it and prevent it in the future.
Better experience for patients
One of the biggest issues patients have when visiting hospitals are the delays caused by filling out documents, forms, their medical history, and insurance details. These administrative tasks happen before and after receiving care, which causes serious and often dangerous delays.
Interoperability comes with reduced paperwork, which means patients won’t be required to fill out the same forms every time they need medical attention. Additionally, the staff won’t need to re-input this information from the paper forms into the database every time.
This means that both patients and staff will have clear benefits when it comes to organization. As healthcare is a profession in which every second counts, it’s very convenient to rely on trusted sources of information that are always accurate and easy to access.
Assistance to researchers
While diagnosing and treating patients, healthcare professionals collect a large amount of data which can be very useful to public healthcare researchers. Through interoperability, your internal computer systems can connect to these researchers’ networks of computers.
Scientists rely on these networks to find out aspects such as the efficiency of certain methods of treatments and perform epidemiology studies. As these researchers are working to protect our society from a wide range of medical issues, giving them access to your data will be beneficial for the community at large.
Information about the latest outbreaks and measures that need to be taken to reduce long-term health consequences will be well-researched and readily accessible to everyone. Additionally, you can state in your marketing materials that you’re providing data to scientists to boost your image and reputation.
Safe and secure patient data
Take a minute to think about all the things that need to happen for the doctor to receive information about a patient. The more people who have access to patient data and can update it, the chances of that information leaking and falling into the wrong hands increases.
Protecting patient confidentiality and securing their sensitive information should be every health institution’s top priority. Sadly, even today, there are countless examples of patient confidentiality being compromised due to poorly networked hospital computer systems.
Interoperability will make these problems a thing of the past, as your IT department can create strict rules about who has access to patient data and who has the authorization to update it. This will make it easy to monitor and ensure staff compliance and perform regular audits to prevent data breaches.
And as this data will be easily accessible via the EHR (Electronic Health Record) system, the number of people involved will be significantly reduced.
Easier data exchange
The sheer amount of different types of information that need to be shared and transmitted between members of staff in a healthcare facility is overwhelming. Doing something as simple as receiving reports from a CAT scan requested by a referring physician can be dragged out longer than necessary.
With interoperability in healthcare, by using connected databases, you will have much easier data exchange and quicker access to necessary data. For instance, if you took an e-ray earlier in the day, all you will need to do is access the patient’s files and the images will appear on your display instantly.
Additionally, interoperability can eliminate prescriptions written on paper, usually in messy handwriting that is hard for any pharmacist to decipher. Instead, you will be able to communicate with the patient’s pharmacy electronically and send out a digital version of the prescription.
Enhanced staff productivity
When you set up the computer systems in your healthcare facility for interoperability, you will be pleasantly surprised by the noticeable increase in productivity. You will be presented with the opportunity to make every patient encounter much shorter and more productive.
When you work with digital documents, whether exclusively or just by converting paperwork into a digital format, you will spend much less time finding records and updating them. You will always have accurate data about the patient, and be able to provide accurate data to the provider and affiliate.
Reduced costs in healthcare
It’s no secret that healthcare costs in the United States are extremely high, so ways to reduce those costs are constantly being explored. And while some cost-cutting measures are already in place in certain healthcare facilities, they aren’t nearly as effective as they should be.
Interoperability is a great way to save costs, and according to The West Health Institute (WHI), interoperability could save the U.S. healthcare system over $30 billion a year. This statement was testified by the WHI in front of the U.S. Congress in 2013.
Through interoperability, healthcare organizations can see benefits for both their patients and their staff members. While reducing medical errors and providing patients with faster treatment and a better experience overall are the biggest benefits, they certainly aren’t the only ones.
It’s important to note that, while achieving true interoperability will be an ongoing journey to any healthcare organization, it’s a venture that’s more than worthwhile. As this industry’s ultimate goal is always to provide patients with the best possible care, interoperability should be at the top of your list of newest additions and improvements.
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