HiMSS recently updated the definition of interoperability and Halo was excited to see the new addition. The original definition included Foundational, Structural and Semantic sections, and in March HiMSS added “Organizational” which includes “interoperability that is integrated into end-user processes and workflows in a manner that supports efficiencies, relationships and overall health and wellness through cooperative use of shared data both across and within organizational boundaries.”1
Bryan Beaver, Director of Clinical Technology for Halo, shares his thoughts:
The topic of interoperability is an interesting one because it is the idea of transferring useful data in the right context that is relevant for patients. Healthcare applications need to speak to other non-healthcare applications, and they may use different technical languages. The basics of that have been addressed, but what about the social and non-technical ideas surrounding technology and how it affects patient care?
Interoperability started within the four walls of the hospital as technology became more prevalent, and often in one single facility you had multiple pieces of technology that were very siloed. Then medical data needed to be exchanged across multiple systems without requiring manual entry each time – redundant work could lead to many errors – so systems had to talk to one another. The advent of EHRs allowed health organizations with many facilities to have access to the same patient data, but this was much more for documentation and billing than real-time patient care. As technologies changed, guardrails were needed to manage new types of clinical communication.
This is where the recent HiMSS update on the definition of interoperability comes in. Adding “Organizational” to the definition to address how health systems “facilitate the secure, seamless and timely communication and use of data within and between organizations and individuals”2 really speaks to how Halo approaches clinical communication and data exchange about patients.
The “Organizational” definition introduces the idea that you cannot communicate or share knowledge or data effectively, unless you take into consideration the non-technical and more social components of communication. This encompasses the entire architecture of the communication process – not just of the health organization’s IT system, but over a patient’s entire continuum of care as well. A patient may go to several physicians, or even different health systems in varied regions for care, and this is what the organizational definition hits on – clinical collaboration anywhere.
It is fun to think about interoperability as defined by HiMSS, with the policies and methodology of how data are exchanged, because Halo has been living in this world for years. As a cloud-based SaaS company, this definition affirms the Clinical Communication Platform™ space. The industry has known that health systems must share data across entities, and to do so efficiently and securely requires rules and regulations. HiMSS has provided a good definition of what these rules and regulations need to include.
When exchanging data at this level, health systems must be cognizant of the type of data being shared. Data must have context and relevance or risk being categorized as noise, which is the last thing clinicians need to add to their already busy days. This is the philosophy that Halo teaches to our customers. The further data expands across healthcare entities, the more important real-time delivery becomes and the more necessary it is for that data to be accurate and relevant for what is happening in front of clinicians.
Although EHRs do a good job offering portals where disparate health systems can share information, this practice is not entirely efficient. Sharing raw clinical data between systems is a great start, but adding context to the data turns it into actionable information that is useful to clinicians. This is where inserting solutions like Halo fill the gap when systems are relying on EHRs alone.
When two separate health systems are linked through Halo, communication and information exchange can happen seamlessly. We can facilitate communication outside of the four walls of each organization – even across the world. There are no limits.
1, 2 https://www.himss.org/library/interoperability-standards/what-is-interoperability