Achieving interoperability has been a priority for healthcare CIOs for many years, but the pressure is mounting from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to enable a nationwide learning health system by 2024.  

While significant progress has been made in recent years (results from the 2020 Connected Care and the State of Interoperability in Healthcare report indicates year-over-year improvement in healthcare providers achieving their top interoperability goals), there are still many challenges when it comes to improving interoperability, including the management of unstructured data and content.

It’s clear there’s still a lot of work to be done, and as a healthcare CIO, there are some questions you’ll need to ask yourself on the path to optimizing healthcare interoperability. Here are a few we think you should consider.

Are You Using Standard Terminology?

First, CIOs need to understand where they stand relative to the adoption of standard terminology. Health Level Seven (HL7) is a set of international standards, rules, and definitions used to exchange and transfer medical information between healthcare providers through electronic health records (EHRs). You can learn more about it in our article, HL7 Tutorial—How to Use the 4 Most Common HL7 Messages.

Not only do you need to know what HL7 is, but you need to understand how to adopt standard terminology into your core business practices. Your organization also needs to have a plan to keep up with the terminology as it evolves so you can continue to take advantage of interoperability technologies. 

What Value Does Optimized Interoperability Provide Your Org?

As a leader in the healthcare IT space, you need to be able to answer why a project like optimized interoperability is worth pursuing in the first place. After all, healthcare orgs aren’t embracing interoperability merely so they check off a regulatory requirement. If you’re committing your organization to a major project like this one, you better be able to explain the benefits it will offer everyone involved. 

While there are a variety of strong points in favor of optimized interoperability, (including reducing data errors and increasing your bottom line), a more seamless clinician experience and improved patient care are two significant ones to keep in mind.

Seamless Clinician Experience = Improved Patient Care 

The most significant benefit of optimizing interoperability is being able to streamline the healthcare process, empowering providers to give better treatment and enhance the overall experience of their patients. 

To do so, however, CIOs need to understand that clinicians need the right data (not just more of it). Interoperability tools need to deliver data in a structured format that’s simple and easy for the clinician to analyze, allowing them to better focus on improving patient outcomes.  

On that same note, it’s important to think beyond just the technology when it comes to optimizing interoperability and to consider the needs of the people using that technology. Are the changes you’re making to help your end-users actually helping them? 

CIOs must remember to collaborate with clinicians to ensure new technology improves their job experience without causing new challenges. Nor is this a one-and-done strategy—CIOs will need to check in with their end-users on an ongoing basis. 

Is Your Team Dedicated to Your Interoperability Success?

To build an optimized interoperability practice, CIOs need to organize a strong, dedicated team committed to success. And given the complexities of the healthcare environment and the increasing challenges of systems and technology, having a third-party expert that understands the needs faced by healthcare IT leaders is essential to optimizing interoperability. That’s where Surety Systems comes in.

Our senior-level healthcare interoperability consulting team can help, whether you lack the expertise on-staff or just need an extra hand while optimizing your system. No matter your need, we’re here to help you succeed.

Contact us today to learn more and get started on your healthcare IT project.