Achieving and maintaining electronic health record (EHR) interoperability is essential in healthcare today—but it also presents significant challenges. Evolving security requirements and emerging technologies can keep EHR vendors from offering secure, interoperable solutions that protect patient safety while improving practice efficiency.
Let’s discuss why so many EHR vendors struggle with interoperability and what they can do to overcome common barriers:
What is EHR interoperability, and why is it important?
What is EHR interoperability? EHR interoperability is the ability to share information seamlessly across all key systems and stakeholders, including patients, providers, and payers. Truly interoperable EHRs enable seamless sharing of medical records, which helps to prevent unnecessary errors and improve patient outcomes and satisfaction.
Recently, ensuring EHR interoperability is more than just a nice-to-have; it’s also a compliance requirement. Last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced new interoperability mandates as part of the Interoperability and Patient Access final rule. CMS’s interoperability rule is designed to break down technical and regulatory barriers to EHR interoperability to improve access to medical records.
But that’s not all: The recent Cures Act Final Rule and Meaningful Use program (which is also called Promoting Interoperability) are also applicable. The Cures Act Final Rule was designed to provide both patients and providers with secure access to relevant health information. Meanwhile, Meaningful Use aims to facilitate secure, efficient sharing of health data to improve outcomes by incentivizing EHR interoperability.
What are common barriers to EHR interoperability?
According to the Center for Connected Medicine, nearly a third of technology executives at U.S. health systems say data-sharing efforts are inconsistent, and fewer than 4 in 10 are successfully sharing data with other health systems. The question is, why? Which barriers to EHR interoperability are preventing vendors from achieving it?
Common barriers to EHR interoperability include:
Lack of Communication Standards
The language gap is real: Varying terminology and lack of systemization is one of the most significant interoperability obstacles EHR vendors encounter. Too often, patient data is both unstructured and inconsistent across disparate, disconnected EHR solutions. This can lead to issues such as increased manual work, duplicate data entry or missing data, data inaccuracy, patient safety concerns, and poor coordination of care.
Limited Tech Skills and Resources
Achieving true EHR interoperability for seamless data exchange is incredibly difficult—and certainly not for lack of trying. EHR vendors often lack the internal skills and resources to make it happen, in big part because supporting interoperability can be very costly and time-consuming—especially on top of other day-to-day responsibilities that come with building, maintaining, and enhancing a superior product.
Challenges with Data Security
Protecting private information from data breaches is both challenging and essential for EHR vendors, who are accountable for data security as it applies to their solutions. Application programming interfaces (APIs) must be secure in order to maintain cybersecurity and prevent data breaches from occurring—especially after healthcare data breaches hit an all-time high in 2021.
Partner for patient engagement success.
By partnering with a leading patient engagement vendor such as InteliChart, EHR vendors can offer a single solution that seamlessly and securely connects patients and providers to their medical records. InteliChart’s Patient Portal seamlessly integrates with more than 30 leading EHR solutions with just a single, direct API integration.
Direct API integration offers patients and providers secure, easy access to health information in one convenient, centralized location. It also gives EHR vendors access to a full platform of engagement tools to enhance their existing product offering. This way, EHR vendors can access more advanced patient engagement tools without expending a significant amount of time, money, and resources in order to do so effectively.
For example, EHRs that directly integrate with InteliChart’s Healthy Outcomes platform include a number of beneficial, patient-centric engagement features, such as:
- Online appointment scheduling
- Remote intake and registration
- Direct messaging with providers
- Refill requests and lab results
- Virtual care appointments
- Flexible financial options
- Access to a mobile app
Looking to enhance your EHR with technology that allows for seamless, secure data exchange and improved patient engagement? Download our eBook, A Guide to Selecting the Right Technology Partner for Your EHR, for help picking the right partner.