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Research Highlights Challenges to Interoperability 

A new survey of technology executives at US hospitals and health systems found that nearly one-third indicate their data-sharing efforts are insufficient, even within their own organizations, and fewer than 4 in 10 say they are successfully sharing data with other health systems. 

Additionally, the most popular solution being pursued to address the interoperability challenges that have long plagued health care is switching to a single, integrated EHR system, according to research sponsored by the Center for Connected Medicine (CCM). 

Jointly operated by GE HealthcareNokia, and UPMC, the CCM facilitates connections and provides resources that support executives pursuing health care improvement and innovation through technology. 

The research, which surveyed 100 information technology and business professionals at US hospitals, examined how well health care organizations are prepared to advance interoperability and how those challenges are affecting organizational priorities. Health care interoperability is widely seen as essential to improving health care for patients, caregivers, health systems, and payers, while lowering the cost of care. 

“This survey supports other research we have conducted at [HIMSS], which shows that health care is making strides advancing interoperability. However, this research also suggests providers feel most successful at sharing data within their own health systems, and less often report success sharing medical data with payers, patients, or other health systems and partners,” says Janet King, senior director of market insights at HIMSS Media, which conducted the research for the CCM in June. 

Nearly 60% of the respondents cited moving to one EHR as an organizational step being taken to overcome interoperability challenges, much higher than other actions named, such as the adoption of widely promoted health care exchange standards, like Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, or FHIR, cited by 37%.  

This lack of interoperability is making it difficult for health systems to pursue key strategic goals, including enabling patient-facing apps, tapping into unstructured data, and reducing the cost of care. In fact, only 27% of respondents said their organizations’ work to improve interoperability had allowed them to reduce the cost of care, while 60% said they were highly effective at meeting the regulatory and compliance requirements posed by interoperability.  

The most crucial elements needed to drive interoperability in health care, according to survey respondents, are commitment by senior leadership, financial incentives or penalties that encourage organizations to share data with one another and with individual patients, and advances in tools and technologies. Follow link to download the “Improving Health Care Interoperability: Are We Making Progress?” report.  

— Source: The Center for Connected Medicine