Interoperability in EHRs: Why Is It So Important?

In today’s healthcare systems, EHRs are playing an important role as they allow the healthcare providers to share the patient’s information easily and smoothly. EHRs should be maintained regularly and they require a continuously integrated way to exchange data and information. An effective and interoperable EHR system allows the healthcare providers to get the desired information when they need, and use it in any format according to the requirements. Challenges and gaps in communication and data sharing can overall integrity of a hospital or healthcare provider and thus it is very important for the EHRs to be interoperable.

What is interoperability?

Interoperable EHRs allow easy and smooth electronic sharing of patient’s health records between different hospitals or healthcare providers. These systems are very helpful for patients and the hospitals, particularly if the patient is shifting to another hospital because of difference in facilities. Different hospitals choose different EHRs according to their system requirements and size of the facilities. Interoperability of EHRs takes place when different healthcare providers need to interact with each other in order to exchange a patient’s health record and other relevant data. Most of the old methods of interoperability include faxing of papers and long telephone calls. However, these old methods take a lot of time and they aren’t very accurate either as there is always a chance of human error. New methods of interoperability involve EHRs (Electronic Health Records) systems which make it easier to share information between the healthcare providers.

Why is interoperability in EHRs important?

A well designed and interoperable Electronic Health Record System is beneficial to the hospital and the patients both. The administration staff and physicians spend a lot of time in EHR-related tasks and documentations or clerical tasks and thus they get overburdened. To reduce the burden on the staff and increase patient satisfaction, interoperable EHR systems should be introduced. Healthcare providers are considered as interoperable when they can easily exchange data and information to each other using the EHRs. Following are the reasons that make interoperability in EHRs so important:

Benefits to the healthcare provider

When using an EHR software, a healthcare provider can send and receive the patient’s information in real time. This allows the hospital to make informed decisions and have a better insight into the situation. There is no need to waste time and money on papers and other documentation processes, and if any other healthcare provider asks for information, it will be readily available through the EHRs. All the data and information is readily available because of interoperability and this way a lot of human errors are avoided.

Benefits to the patients

Interoperability in EHRs is very beneficial to the patient as the physicians and doctors get the desired information readily. A patient won’t need to visit various hospitals and submit the medical records to have them checked or approved. The smooth and speedy transfer of information has great effects on the healthcare services provided by a hospital. The instant and speedy access to patients’ health conditions will make it easier for the healthcare provider to make instant decisions especially for those patients who are in emergency.

Cost related benefits

Interoperability in EHRs has a great impact on the cost-effectiveness. These systems not only save time but also reduce costs to a great extent. The main costs that are saved due to interoperability of EHRs are the costs of unnecessary hospital stays and visits and useless and inapplicable tests and treatment procedures at the patient’s side. For a healthcare provider, costs are saved that would be otherwise spent on lengthy documentation procedures and also malpractice lawsuits.