Today, when the need for healthcare is increasing, especially after the pandemic, seamless sharing of information is a priority.
However, ample time is wasted in collecting the previous medical information of the patient leading to a delay in diagnosis. Secondly, the data exchanged by cross-organisational collaborations, regardless of excellent human efficiency and focus, can have errors.
Presence of risks in the current healthcare system
The importance of having an interoperable healthcare system is that different healthcare organisations can communicate and exchange health information timely, to avoid any critical harm to patients. However, the significance of interoperability is much more than successful EHR systems. The risks present in the current healthcare system are:
- Inability to access and exchange patient data on time and accurately: Healthcare system is making strides toward embracing an interoperable healthcare system but, still, fails during the need of the hour. Taking into account the patient’s safety and satisfaction, without proper information about the patient’s medical history, healthcare providers will not be able to provide an accurate diagnosis. This can also lead to a lack of coordination among providers.
- Patient Record mixing or mismatching: Healthcare systems often fail to produce accurate records and even mix patients of the same name. This can lead to a wrong diagnosis, increasing the risk to the patient’s safety. Record mixing or mismatching is costly because it can lead to repeat tests and delayed diagnosis.
- Administrative Operative Efficiency: Healthcare facilities employ staff full-time specifically for producing and matching patient health information but humans cannot match the accuracy, speed and consistency of machines. The medical records are subjected to errors and this directly affects the administrative operative efficiency.
- Private health information of a patient is also at risk without a proper interoperable system in place.
The risks stated above should be addressed in terms of patient safety, patient matching and operational efficiency. An accurate interoperable healthcare system in place can easily mitigate these risks and helps increase patient-centric healthcare. An interoperable healthcare system allows sharing of essential data regardless of the physical location, organisation, disease, or patient’s presence/absence and is without any human error.
So, why not utilize the availability of interoperable systems to improve the productivity of healthcare facilities, exchange accurate data and keep the data safe?
How does interoperability affect collaboration between healthcare facilities?
It’s all about data. Medical records of patients comprise health-related data which needs to be shared from one healthcare facility to another. Interoperability makes collaborating an easy affair even if data is in huge amounts. The features that support the claim:
- Automated data management: The health information of a patient is present across different healthcare services and accessing it manually, during a critical moment, can take time. Secondly, all the health data is usually added manually which makes deciphering it a challenging task. But with interoperability, a doctor can coordinate with any healthcare facility to access relevant information regarding their patient.
- Better Patient Safety: Patients, especially those residing in urban settings, consult different healthcare professionals and receive care from different healthcare facilities. Interoperability allows the integration of health information specific to a patient that ensures patient safety and provides them with the best care facilities. Doctors and care facilitators can easily communicate and collaborate while diagnosing a patient.
- Fewer medical errors: An analysis by The BMJ revealed that medical error is one of the main reasons for deaths in the United States. Although not all medical errors are a result of discrepancies in medical records, some of them are. With interoperability, there is no room for any errors. It ensures that the format of the healthcare records or data is structured and shared between different healthcare facilities.
- Minimize administrative costs and Maximize Efficiency: There is no doubt that healthcare is a necessity and everyone has the right to proper medical treatment. But, since, many hospitals and clinics provide free healthcare facilities, bearing the administrative costs of handling health information is a burden for them. Interoperability saves the administrative cost that is spent on staff needed for data entry, billing and management of patient records.
- Patient-Centric Healthcare: The main agenda of the healthcare industry is to ensure patient satisfaction. There is a shift in the healthcare industry towards becoming patient-centric but this shift is not completed yet. Sometimes, patients feel ignored and even emotionally harmed by healthcare facilities because of the slow processing of data. An interoperable system can transform the healthcare industry and can make it more patient-centric than ever before.
For decades, the healthcare industry has been working towards becoming technologically advanced. With interoperability, now, they can take one more step ahead.