Part 1 of 3.

Read Part 2: Integrate and Exchange   Read Part 3: Connect Externally

At its base, health data interoperability involves semantic interoperability, which is loosely defined as “the ability of computer systems to transmit data with unambiguous, shared meaning.

As the healthcare industry shares more patient data, the challenge has become how to share and store that data between systems without losing the true clinical meaning of the diagnosis. In a conversational way, a paragraph of words by the clinician can most effectively present the full meaning of the diagnosis. But the problem is paragraphs of words are not easily understood by machines.

Rather than get into the technical details of the tasks required to harmonize the data between systems to achieve an acceptable level of semantic interoperability (a job achieved using an HL7 interface engine, namely Corepoint Integration Engine) we’ll take the macro view and look at the jobs the industry needs to accomplish as we work toward widespread interoperability.

Meet Meaningful Use Requirements

The original driver of health data interoperability, the government’s Meaningful Use program is designed to incent healthcare providers to adopt electronic health records and use them in a meaningful way. The government spelled out what they consider as meaningful use in the program’s three stages, which are loosely summarized as:

  • Stage 1: Encourage the widespread adoption of electronic health record systems
  • Stage 2: Encourage the sharing of health data between providers
  • Stage 3: Improve the quality of patient care using shared patient data

What jobs need to be done to not only attest for Meaningful Use, but to be positioned ahead of any future changes in the industry?

This post will look at a goal for stage 1. Future posts will look at goals for stages 2 and 3.

Stage 1: Adopt Certified Technology

Stage 1 requires that program participants adopt 2014 edition Meaningful Use-certified technology, which applies to full EHR systems and any technology that assists in activities associated with the program, including interface engines, HIE technology, patient portals, and other applications as designated by the ONC. Stage 1 certification tested applications for very minimum requirements that, unfortunately, led many healthcare providers to install technologies they believed would put them in a healthy position to succeed in future stages of the government’s program.

As certification criteria has begun to include Stage 2 criteria, 2014-certified technologies have to undergo much more rigorous testing to prove that can indeed perform the Meaningful Use data exchange requirements.

As many applications have been unable to pass the more rigorous criteria, many providers have been forced to consider migrating to new, 2014-certified technology – primarily EHRs –to attest for MU, a task that typically requires migrating health data into the new system.

There are various data migration options available to providers, such as maintaining two separate databases or performing a complete data migration to the new application. For both options, Corepoint Health customers have successfully used Corepoint Integration Engine to map legacy data into the new database in a usable format.

Additionally, customers are able to recreate and seamlessly transfer valuable interfaces in production in the old application to the new application using the engine’s test-as-you-develop feature. Using this tested feature, customers duplicate interface logic behind the scenes using real patient data prior to activation, which eliminates downtime and increases staff confidence that the “go live” with the new EHR’s interfaces will be a success.

Up Next — Stage 2: Integrate and Exchange

You can also download the full whitepaper (pdf): What are the High Level Goals of Healthcare Interoperability?

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