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Interoperability: Why It Matters More Than You Think

Moving from spreadsheets to an EHR system offers significant benefits to healthcare organizations, yet adoption rates for non-acute facilities are low as compared to other healthcare systems. While non-federal acute care hospitals are seeing EHR adoption rates around 96 percent, the small amount of data found on for-profit long-term care facilities shows less than half that rate.

With an aging population and more health services being delivered beyond the confines of the health system, accelerating EHR adoption and interoperability between clinical and financial systems is critical. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wants interoperability between disparate electronic health records systems to be common by 2024. When linked to ERP, interoperable systems provide better transparency for decision-making and a single source of information for greater operational efficiency, safer care and improved patient outcomes.

Save the Stress

In home health and rehabilitation centers the director of nursing (DON) is responsible for the overall management and direction of clinical services. In a spreadsheet-based environment, the DON can be stretched thin between maintaining the quality of care provided to residents, administrative tasks, managing nursing staff, and making sure their facility meets its short- and long-term goals.

In a facility run through connected systems, medical information can be accessed across the care continuum, allowing for a more collaborative approach while enhancing the experience for the patient. For example, with a single-source data stream, through EHR interoperability, facilities are able to better facilitate compliance with HIPAA privacy requirements. HIPAA protects personal health information from misuse, but interoperability enables that information to be accessible, when and where it is needed for patient care, with proper security and controls.

Increase Accuracy

The goal of any healthcare worker is to provide the best care possible. When the coordination of care is run through interoperable systems, a patient’s care between each employee can be streamlined across medical encounters. When patients don’t have to answer the same laundry-list of questions, time can be saved and care can be provided sooner and more practically. As the population of people 65 and older rapidly doubles, post-acute facilities must be prepared for the large influx in patients. Greater coordination of care through interoperability means that physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other care givers will be able to spend time focusing on the patient, not verifying data.

Also, when data does not have to be transferred manually between spreadsheets, a good amount of human error is eliminated. Up-to-date information can be accessed in real time without worry if it is correct.

In addition to increasing record accuracy, integrating EHRs with back office business applications ensures care is properly coordinated, executed, and communicated with intelligent insight into supplies being used. As a result, health organizations can monitor supply-related revenue and usage across the care continuum. Electronically integrated records also help improve accuracy, speed of billing and reimbursements. These improved operations make a big difference in a facilities’ bottom line.

Get Ahead of the Game

As healthcare technology and interest in interoperability grows, so does enthusiasm for the FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) standard. FHIR looks to make exchanging health information faster and more efficient through the exchange of specific, well-defined pieces of information, rather than entire documents. Current processes of information transfer involve searching multiple documents to find a certain piece of information. When data can be transferred in a more granular form, patient information privacy is a more attainable goal.

The need for non-acute healthcare organizations to upgrade ERP and embrace EHR adoption is growing rapidly. An ERP system designed for the specific needs of healthcare combined with an EHR that links to the supply chain can improve patient care and deliver better financial results. Instead of a network of ad hoc connection points, it’s time to start thinking of investing in a solution that unites clinical, financial and operational systems with data to ensure accuracy, responsiveness and greater predictability to how care is delivered.

Greg Benton is vice president of strategic markets for healthcare at Avaap. Contact us to learn more about Avaap's healthcare integration solutions.