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Jerris Heaton

Ways to Improve Interoperability During the COVID-19 Pandemic

May 18, 2020

EHR 3 Minute Read

Interoperability is already a key focus of the healthcare industry – but it’s being thrust even further into the spotlight in the wake of the spread of the novel coronavirus.

What is interoperability, and how can it help mitigate the spread and ripple effects of COVID-19? What are its applications against future disruptions, should they occur? Let’s dive in.

What Is Interoperability?

In short, interoperability is the ability for healthcare providers to share critical information electronically, allowing for more rapid spread of key best practices, patient data and more (within the confines of privacy laws and regulations).

At its core, true interoperability has the potential to be a simple way for healthcare providers to understand the medical histories of patients who have been treated elsewhere, see which treatments have resulted in positive outcomes at other practices, effectively communicate regarding important best practices, and more in a secure and simple way.

EHR Interoperability COVID19

Interoperability can be achieved by enabling data to be accessed and shared securely across the complete spectrum of care and with relevant stakeholders, including the patient, and robust EHR systems with simple-to-use, yet customizable and productive interfaces can drive this key sharing forward.

So, how can interoperability help in times of crisis, such as the uncertain period brought about by the spread of the novel coronavirus?

Interoperability in the Fight Against COVID-19

By engaging in productive interoperability, healthcare providers can share key data regarding patient populations, concentrated outbreaks, treatments, and more as it relates to COVID-19, potentially allowing for a more unified and productive front in the way against the virus.

However, this ideal exchange of information needs providers to adhere to a few best practices to achieve its potential.

To help interoperability play a role in the fight against COVID-19, healthcare providers should:

  • Operate under two key principles – the short term, namely the next two to three months, is more critical than the long term, and current EHR solutions should be optimized to allow for this short-term focus as opposed to innovating new EHR systems.
  • Support an effort to improve commercial lab reporting, which could aid in the public tracing of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19. This reporting should include key demographic information designed to provide a clearer picture of COVID-19-positive patients.
  • Encourage private payers and other entities to offer incentives aimed at driving participation by test-givers.
  • Encourage state and local officials to provide clinical data to back up case investigations, resulting in a more robust effort.
  • Support elevated use of the National Syndromic Surveillance Program, or NSSP, which could help protocols at the federal, state and local levels coalesce.

Overall, healthcare providers need to do their part to help every level of the United States’ healthcare system get on the same page and follow best practices for coding, short-term focus, information sharing and more.

How COVID-19 Could Shape the Future of Interoperability

The spread of the novel coronavirus has placed even greater emphasis on interoperability, and experts agree that a heavier focus on the strategy could result from this period of uncertainty.

Interoperability, when used effectively, can promote easy access to key patient data not only with respect to COVID-19, but in future similar disruptions.

EHR Interoperability COVID19

More detailed documentation, more robust event notification services and more could all help track the progression of future outbreaks, giving the healthcare system a leg up it did not have in the current war against COVID-19.

To learn more about how ChartLogic’s EHR solutions can play a role in bolstering interoperability, visit our solutions page.

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