By Morris Panner
Whether it’s a little leaguer who breaks his wrist or a grandmother diagnosed with breast cancer, they have one thing in common: They will require a team of doctors and other healthcare practitioners to treat their conditions and help them achieve the best possible outcomes.
But without the ability to seamlessly collaborate – including sharing patient information, images and test results – it’s almost impossible for providers to get a full picture of a patient’s condition and ensure they’re taking the next appropriate steps.
Healthcare technology – from electronic health records (EHR) to the wide variety of solutions used by radiologists and labs to apps that make personal health information more accessible to patients – is improving the quality of care delivered and driving patient engagement. Yet the inability of these systems to effectively connect and share data in the same familiar and easily accessible formats sometimes cause healthcare tech to be more of a burden than a benefit.
These types of challenges put the spotlight on interoperability. A key health IT focus since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published its Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule in May 2020, interoperability efforts have shifted into overdrive since the pandemic forced care outside the traditional four walls of the doctor’s office, prompting healthcare systems to implement solutions giving both providers and patients more convenient access to medical information.
Given the focus and some trends seen at last month’s Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) 2022 Annual Meeting, there’s no doubt that interoperability is still a key area of exploration and analysis. As one of the more critical components of interoperability, the role of cloud-based solutions also proved to be a major theme at the show, generating significant discussion thanks to a number of product demonstrations and a few launches. No surprise there. More so now than ever before, cloud concepts hold the key to jumpstarting true interoperability and providing ubiquitous access to vital medical information to meet a variety of value-based care goals.
Breaking down silos in healthcare: The first step in interoperability
With virtually every hospital and health system now utilizing certified health IT, such as EHRs, it is imperative that these technologies can communicate with each other. But different technology vendors use different data formats, making it difficult for data to be shared between the various solutions that providers have implemented. This creates data silos that prevent all of a patient’s providers from getting a full picture of their health.