What is Interoperability?


In the simplest of terms, Interoperability is the ability of making disparate systems talk to each other. The basic purpose of enabling interoperability is information exchange. Defining interoperability from a healthcare standpoint, HIMSS tells us that “Interoperability is theextent to which systems and devices can exchange data, and interpret that shared data. For two systems to be interoperable, they must be able to exchange data and subsequently present that data such that it can be understood by a user.”

There are various players in the healthcare industry. This includes patient, provider, payer, lab, clinician, hospital and pharmacy. Between all of them, the amount of information that gets created is mind-boggling. And all of this is generated with the goal of providing better care. Thus, the goal of interoperability is to create an environment where software applications can communicate, exchange and make use of the information without worrying about which software is used by the end-user.

An interoperability system has different components. Each of these components is a critical piece of the interoperability puzzle and plays an integral part in ensuring seamless exchange of information. What are these components?

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Clinical Data Exchange

  • A clinical data exchange handles the electronic transfer of information
  • This eliminates traditional methods like faxing and introduces a simple and secure messaging platform.
  • This also enables providers qualify for ARRA incentives.

Revenue Cycle Management

  • Manages treatment plan eligibility and benefits.
  • Generates patient statements and keep track of claim status.

Patient Engagement

  • Patient engagement is a key Meaningful Use criterion.
  • This enables patients and doctors to connect with each other.
  • Patient engagement includes scheduling, reminders and ability of the patient to reach out to the doctor to seek clarification in the treatment plan.

Provider Portal

  • The provider portal contains the entire medical history of a patient even when the patient moves across different hospitals.
  • Providers irrespective of the EHR system they use have access to patient information anytime, anywhere.
  • Provider portal ensures increased care coordination by ensuring the updated information is shared across the healthcare continuum.

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