Healthcare Data EMR Interoperability

Hospitals across the United States seem to be in a race to adopt the EMR systems to ensure that their eligibility for healthcare stimulus benefits is not questioned. The federal government did take the initiative to ensure that adoption of Electronic Medical Records was done quickly but it seems that the issue of Interoperability had not been explored in its entirety. The issue of Interoperability is essentially that of time and technology lag in acquiring/establishing e-health records systems and making them totally interoperable, i.e. an EMR-adopting healthcare setting should be able to function in complete accordance with the standards set as a part of HIPAA and should be compatible with the EMR information system used by external, covered entities such as insurance carriers or clearing houses for exchanging/sharing patient information.

EMR Interoperability Cannot Be Ignored

Some standards have been set for ensuring EMR Interoperability but it continues to be a concern for the large scale adoption of e-health record management. There are some roadblocks in the adoption of EMR systems that typically define what are being referred to as 'EMR Interoperability issues'. For instance, a healthcare setting’s adopted EMR software might establish reasonable levels of connectivity among the various departments but can it ensure equally efficient integration with clearing houses or other covered entities that are a part of processing or saving patient healthcare information.

In fact, there are some suggestions that many of the EMR vendors have purposely loaded their EMR software with functionalities that discourage compatibility with the record management systems of other covered entities. This is an indirect and unfair way of trying to promote and in a way, i.e. coerce business associates of a hospital to adopt the same EMR technology and buy it from the same vendor.

It should also be understood that the stipulations listed as a part of the HITECH Act don’t directly insist that true ‘meaningful use’ of the proposed stimulus money is established only when interoperable EMR systems are installed. However, the federal government has acknowledged the lack of transparent-functioning EMR systems that promote Interoperability. This is the reason why the recommendations from the HHS now direct covered entities towards adopting the DIRECT system, i.e. downloadable and free email-based software that provide cheap and undemanding access for communicating and sharing health/patient information.

The National Health Information Network CONNECT is among the easiest to use, open software solutions that presents a trouble-free health information exchange system. This can be done at the local and national level. CONNECT is a progressive software application that uses standards mandated as a part of HITECH Act to ensure that health information exchange is compatible with other healthcare information systems being used across the nation. This software had been developed by the federal agencies and now it is available in the free, online marketplace. This software helps to:

• Establish easy health information exchange systems
• Connect EMR information exchange systems with regional healthcare information exchange systems
• Ensures that the goal of nationwide adoption of electronic health records by 2014 is met

The CONNECT solution is made up of three, main components:
• Core Services Gateway
• Nationwide Health Information Network Interface
• Universal Client Framework