The Definition of Interoperability
The Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) define interoperability as ‘the ability of different information systems, devices and applications (systems) to access, exchange, integrate and cooperatively use data in a coordinated manner, within and across organisational, regional and national boundaries, to provide timely and seamless portability of information and optimise the health of individuals and populations globally.’
The Significance of Interoperability within Healthcare
It is widely accepted within digital healthcare that there is a significant lack of interoperability between systems. This lack of interoperability is arguably responsible for limiting the speed of transformation within the industry. With increased interoperability, the ability to exchange and integrate systems, therefore data, the digitalisation of the healthcare sector has huge scope for improvement.
Benefits of Interoperability
Increased interoperability in digital healthcare would result in patient centric information being accessed more efficiently by both healthcare professionals and patients. The result for patients would be drastic as they would be able to access live information with regards to diagnostics, support and treatment leading to improved healthcare results for individuals. For healthcare professionals they would be able to access and act on patient information with greater speed and reliability, wherever they meet the patient on their journey.
How to Improve Interoperability
In order to achieve interoperability, the digital healthcare industry must fully adopt electronic health records and health information exchange services. The old method of paper-based records which, up until recently, were widely used in hospitals restrict visibility to one person/location. Electronic files on the other hand, allow for files and documents relating to patients to be seen and exchanged securely with any required user in any location. Digitalising patient records is no longer optional for the healthcare sector, paper records in no longer sustainable practice for a sector as complex as healthcare.
The healthcare sector has relied on technology more than ever since the breakout of Covid-19, which has had huge benefits to the industry, but with so many more systems sharing sensitive information, it is more important than ever before to embrace and employ interoperability.