If we’re heading toward a place of sharing data to improve patient care and communication, then effective interoperability is our vehicle to get there. In the same way, appropriately leveraging your EHR is like having your car gassed up, your GPS programmed, and your playlist set – it’s how you maximize your road trip experience. As healthcare organizations are pushed to transfer to electronic systems, interoperability may not seem too far off after all. The Office of the National Coordinator [ONC] for Health IT released its draft roadmap to interoperability on Jan. 30 and we at Prominence are ready to start our engines.
The HIMSS Board broke interoperability down to three levels:
1. Foundational: allowing data exchange from one system to another, but the receiving system is not able to interpret the data.
2. Structural: allowing data exchange from one system to another such that the receiving system is able to interpret data at the data field level.
3. Semantic: allowing data exchange from one system to another such that the receiving system is able to use the information that has been exchanged.
Since Karen DeSalvo, MD, became the National Coordinator for Healthcare Information Technology, she not only put interoperability back on the map, but she also gave us directions on how to get there. What we like about this roadmap is that ONC has collaborated with federal, state, and private sectors to outline the course to interoperability. ONC also allowed the public to leave their own comments and suggestions about the roadmap until April 3. Now, it’s just a matter of interpreting the instructions and milestones.
Any plan of this scale has its limitations, though. On paper, the roadmap to interoperability may be a great outline for helping healthcare organizations reach a semantic level of interoperability, but reading the three-, six-, and ten-year milestones is like being told it only takes 30 minutes to get from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to Lakeshore Drive, Downtown during rush-hour traffic [if you know Chicago traffic, you’ll know that even an hour is optimistic]. And while we’re optimistic about the route to interoperability, we’re just a little weary of the timeframe to get there.
At Prominence Advisors, we’re ready to sit in the front seat and guide your organization through the roadmap to interoperability. Through the windy roads of system implementations and over the hills of data governance, we are committed to showing you the path that will help you reach your destination.