Interoperability In Allergist Healthcare
Accessing shared health information is vital for the best patient outcome, but interoperability in allergist healthcare is difficult to achieve.
Interoperability is a difficult topic to approach. It offers plenty of benefits — namely that shared records can be used to improve the standard of patient care and outcomes — but the risk to privacy can be daunting enough to discourage many practitioners from implementing interoperability in allergist healthcare. Fortunately, many EHR vendors offer solutions.
What Is Interoperability?
Interoperability is a concept that recently emerged with the rise of electronic health record (EHR) applications. As the capacity to share patient records amongst clinics without privacy concerns has improved, many physicians have found themselves able to effectively share new patient health records and build upon this information to ensure effective and coordinated care.
This coordination can exist in different forms. At a basic level, practitioners should be able to exchange data amongst themselves — but ideally, more information is required to keep their care in-sync. Standardized communication and organizational policies have both turned out to be important factors in ensuring that healthcare data sharing remains effective and ethical.
Benefits of Interoperability in Allergist Healthcare
There are quite a few ways that allergists can benefit from implementing interoperability into their practice. The most significant among these benefits is the seamless care coordination that patients enjoy, as decisions made with all patient health factors taken into account will lead to improved outcomes.
Interoperability can also help improve patient safety. Dangerous mistakes that may be borne out of discrepancies in patient health records or inaccurate documentation are unlikely to occur when health records are shared across a standardized medium. As a result, practices may even enjoy reduced overhead costs associated with legal fees and penalties that would have otherwise resulted from errors.
Challenges of Implementing Interoperability in Allergist Healthcare
While interoperable EHR systems are useful when implemented, they don’t come without challenges. One of the most daunting issues is ensuring the system is interoperable at all — is the same terminology and content structure shared between two providers? How will security, patient identification, and data transfer all be orchestrated effectively and safely within a healthcare network?
Several points are vital to consider during the implementation process, including:
- How patient consent for record sharing can be acquired and documented. Ensuring that all data sharing is done in accordance with regional and national regulations is crucial.
- Whether the system complies with standards of interoperability set by organizations like HL7 and ONC.
- How electronic communications can be protected. Sharing confidential patient data comes with the responsibility to protect and safeguard it.
- Whether the system is capable of communicating with healthcare providers using other EHR systems.
- How the confidentiality of PHI is protected within the system itself. PHI should be simultaneously available and safeguarded from inappropriate access.
- Whether the system effectively integrates with diagnostic systems and allows for direct data importation.
- How the system implements allergy-specific features, including but not limited to immunotherapy protocol management and allergy test documentation.
Broader Impacts of Interoperability
Presently, very few EHR vendors have emphasized providing features that would benefit allergist practices. Few systems incorporate allergy practice-specific features, and fewer yet address the unique needs that are likely to coincide with such a practice utilizing immunotherapy systems. Only a few EHR vendors have begun to recognize the need for innovation.
Despite this, it’s clear that the successful incorporation of interoperable systems comes with many benefits. Patients enjoy the most benefits as a result of the improved standard of care that these systems allow, while practitioners and clinics themselves benefit from the reduced risk that accompanies this care.
Implement Allergy-Inclusive EHR Systems
Interoperability in allergist healthcare is a vital goal that clinics and practitioners must adopt. The sharing of and cohesive approach to PHI has increasingly become a necessity. Though shared EHRs are accompanied by a unique set of challenges, recent innovations in EHR software have been successful in reducing implementation to a simple process.