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Interoperability Defined & What it Means for Medical Practices

Interoperability Defined & What it Means for Medical Practices
Andrea Clement
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As technology improves and evolves, medical practices continue to implement more applications and platforms to enhance operational efficiency in all areas. With multiple technology platforms in each office, the interoperability of these platforms is more critical to the success of your practice than ever before.

Key Takeaways:

  • Interoperability is the capability of technology platforms to communicate with one another and share information.
  • The 21st Century Cures Act is a federal law that requires interoperability between health information technology (“health IT”) systems certified by the federal government.
  • Medical practices should consider interoperability as an important  factor when implementing new technologies.

What is interoperability?

Interoperability is the capability of each of your technology platforms (such as EHR, patient messaging, appointment scheduling, and payment/collections technology) to communicate with one another and share information.

Increasing interoperability in healthcare settings entails the added challenge of ensuring HIPAA compliance and adhering to all patient privacy and health data regulations while sharing information across multiple technology platforms. 

21st Century Cures Act

In 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law to help further promote interoperability throughout the healthcare industry for the benefit of public health and the advancement of health innovation. The Act promotes best practices for the use of technology to advance medical innovation and improve public health and information accessibility, while protecting patient privacy. 

The 21st Century Cures Act and federal regulations implementing its requirements seek to promote patients’ access to their own health information and support the ability to share that information, empowering patients to actively participate in their own healthcare. They also include requirements that promote health IT interoperability and prohibit information blocking by developers of health IT certified by the federal government, health information exchanges and networks, and healthcare providers. 

How interoperability improves the patient experience and staff efficiency

Interoperability among your technology platforms facilitates access to health information, where and when it is needed, as well as streamlines communication within your practice.

Additionally, it improves efficiency for patients and your staff. Staff time is saved, as data doesn’t need to be entered or duplicated across multiple platforms. For example, if a patient requests a refill through your patient communications platform, the information would be included in the patient’s chart automatically within your EHR platform. 

Similarly, the patient’s medication history and any allergies can be easily referenced and applied to their refill request if the EHR platform and the communications platforms are integrated and interoperable. This is just one example of many that demonstrates how your practice depends upon the seamless flow of information across its technology platforms.

Not only is interoperability convenient and efficient for patients and staff, but it also prevents medical errors and promotes accuracy. Each time the same data is re-entered into a different technology platform, it allows more opportunities for human error. Therefore, communication between various technology platforms within your practice can help increase accuracy, improve patient satisfaction, and lead to better patient outcomes. 

Choosing platforms for interoperability

Interoperability is one of many important factors to consider when choosing a technology platform for your practice. 

While evaluating options for a new technology platform, consider options that are specific to the healthcare industry. Ideally, any new platform you choose to implement should be designed and proven for use in healthcare settings and specialties that are the same or similar to your practice. Confirm that the platform includes privacy and security safeguards and is designed to accommodate all necessary regulations governing healthcare providers and organizations that handle medical information.

Be sure to inquire specifically about the prospective product’s interoperability with the other technology platforms in your practice. If possible, ask for specific examples of practices where the new platform has been successfully integrated with the same platforms utilized in your practice.

Klara and the future of interoperability

Klara is committed to interoperability by working with and serving EHR and PM systems throughout the market, so patients are able to have better access to their health information. 

Klara is focused on building upon its interfaces with a variety of EHR systems including ModMed®, athenahealth, Nextech, Greenway Health, Allscripts, AdvancedMD, and more. Klara’s conversational engagement platform interfaces directly with these EHR and PM systems, to enable practices to deliver a seamless, patient-centric experience that benefits both staff and patients alike. 

If you’re interested in learning more about Klara’s goal of becoming the standard for how medical practices communicate with patients — by building out strong interfaces with EHR and Practice Management systems across the healthcare space — click here to book a demo today.

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