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Interoperability: Face the challenges

Interoperability: Face the challenges

Nick KnowltonQ. If interoperability is simply about getting the right information to the right place at the right time, then why isn't it happening more often? 

A. The answer, unfortunately, is that it's not always that simple. For a long time, the topic of interoperability was often synonymous with frustration for patients and providers alike. Instead of being sent electronically, information was locked in paper documents, misplaced, not sent at all or sent too late. With increasing industry focus and reliance on interoperability to smooth community workflows and solve operational problems across the care continuum, the room for mistakes and the gaps in action become smaller and smaller. 

Still, there are plenty of challenges. One is data standards. For information to be truly interoperable, it needs to be structured in a way that can be read by any system. But with many different systems in use, and with those systems constantly changing, it can be difficult to drive use of consistent data standards, especially those most impactful in the HME provider space. 

Another challenge is adoption. Very often in our industry, the referral party responsible for sending information or signing documents does not feel the pain HME providers do when these workflows are not complete. There has been a historic disconnect between the ease of use of systems in use by physicians and those that provide the best utility for our industry – luckily, this gap is rapidly narrowing. 

Despite the challenges, interoperability is essential to the future of health care, and we are making progress every day. As more and more emphasis is placed on solving health care issues in our country, the need for interoperability will only become greater. By overcoming the challenges, we can ensure that the right information gets to the right place at the right time, so that patients can receive the care they need. 

Nick Knowlton is vice president, business development at Brightree. FMI:


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