“Over the last couple years… we focused on the technical aspect of interoperability, and while of course that’s an important part, I think we’ve missed out on thinking about the providers, the individual clinicians as well as the organizations,” Sensmeier says.
To this point, one of the most important things your organization can do now—while interoperability is still gearing up for prime time—is to look at how well your clinicians, patients and technologies are working together.
For example, it’s not uncommon for clinicians to use ordinary cameras—such as digital SLR and even phone cameras—to capture various dermatological and other pathologies. They then download the images to their computers before printing and either scanning or sending them to the HIM department to be scanned for storage in the EHR and/or shared with other providers. Is this really the most efficient and practical workflow to digitize vital healthcare images? It begs the question of how interoperability could streamline the digitization of images with such capabilities as sending images directly to EHR repositories from your devices, including scanners via scan-to-cloud, scan-to-email or scan-to another networked repository.
Release of information documentation is another instance in healthcare workflows that could be streamlined with interoperability. Patients often need their information sent to other providers, yet many clinicians must use several different systems to access that documentation, print it, fax it, and then shred it when they’re finished. Intoperability would, however, help the information silos work seamlessly together to streamline the workflow including enforcing policies to shred private information.
To put it mildly, clunky workflows won’t play well as interoperability becomes a necessary part of our lives. And no matter how advanced your EHR, some aspect of patient care inevitably risks being overlooked and left behind.