Our Continued Quest for Interoperability in 2023

Will 2023 really be the year we see healthcare interoperability that not only shares our data but aides in better outcomes? In our recent 7th Annual State of Interoperability panel discussion with industry leaders, they explained the milestones we meet this year especially with information blocking and the realization of TEFCA. But will that mean a more connected 2023? Here is what the experts have to say. And join us for the next few weeks as we look at what we might see in 2023.

Lee Barrett, Executive Director and CEO, EHNAC
Twitter: @EHNAC

We are looking at several key trends that will come to greater importance and affect our industry in 2023. First is the heightened focus on interoperability with the finalization of the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) and operationalization of Qualified Health Information Networks (QHINs). This implementation initiative will have a dramatic impact on healthcare data exchange in the US for all participants. Second, the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) standard, developed by HL7 International, will continue to gain further traction and become the standard for APIs in the future, as well as proving to be a key foundational component of achieving healthcare interoperability. I also see that the Unified Data Application Profiles (UDAP), an open-source standard, will become the model for API architectural adoption and assurance of compliance with key privacy and security assurances. It will be important to assure consumers that the APIs that they need and require are safe. The CARIN Alliance as well as others are focused on raising awareness and facilitating industry adoption of these APIs to provide a greater level of stakeholder trust. Finally, artificial intelligence will continue to provide a level of significant sophistication to data analytics and data evaluation for healthcare – transforming the way in which we view and understand data and information in many health IT settings.

David Lareau, CEO of Medicomp Systems
Twitter: @MedicompSys

With the enforcement of the 21st Century Cures Act and TEFCA, healthcare is sharing more data than ever before, spurring greater demand for technologies that help clinicians effectively manage the incoming information. With so much data being “dumped” into their EHRs, clinicians now need better tools help filter all the clinical data and reduce the time it takes users to find the relevant information they need for each patient. To ensure that interoperability actually improves care, we must empower clinicians with clinically efficient EHRs that deliver usable, actionable and diagnostically connect data at the point of care. For example, users should be able to select a problem from a problem list and be presented with a profile of the key indicators for the given problem, including relevant medications, lab orders and results including trendlines, related history and physical exam indicators, and therapeutic interventions for the problem.

Erica Jain, founder & CEO, Healthie
Twitter: @GetHealthie

Data bridging will create a better healthcare future for patients. For far too long, legacy software has walled off patient data, making collaboration between care teams an insurmountable barrier to better care. Collaborative care between the entire health team is the best way to ensure a positive patient experience. In 2023, more healthcare organizations will turn to technology that puts interoperability first.

Rita Bowen, MA, RHIA, CHPS, CHPC, SSGB, Vice President, Privacy, Compliance and HIM Policy, MRO
Twitter: @MROCorp

October 6, 2022, marked data liberation day in healthcare as the expanded definition of electronic health information (EHI) under the Information Blocking Rule went into effect. But along with greater responsibility to exchange patient data comes a stark reminder of our responsibility to also protect patient privacy. Covered entities under HIPAA are still required to protect patient privacy with special rules already in place for mental health, substance abuse and potentially reproductive records.

I predict that 2023 will see heightened efforts to effectively balance the need for data sharing with existing privacy laws. Yes, consumers are increasingly sharing their personal health information and in many cases for good reason. But as an industry we must simultaneously respect patients’ desire for privacy. Privacy is highly personal and cannot be overlooked.

Dr. Nick van Terheyden aka Dr. Nick
Twitter: @drnic1
Host of The Incrementalist

Interoperability – With legislation finally in full swing organizations and vendors can no longer limit interoperability and sharing of patient data opening the door to multiple other players. Watch for escalation of fines levied to bring real teeth to the sharing of data. Watch for a few winners to emerge on the integration and unification front of your digital health world.

Sulabh Agarwal, Chief Technology Officer, KeyCare
Twitter: @KeyCareInc

As care spreads beyond the walls of a single healthcare institution, the importance of interoperability continues to grow. There is a lot to be optimistic about with the ongoing adoption of USCDI and FHIR through ONC. This would allow all systems to exchange a basic set of important health data while speaking a common technical language. However, technical complexity is only part of the puzzle, and several challenges remain when it comes to interoperability. First, semantic interoperability is not solved. Systems must map data to understand each other and that takes valuable effort to set up and maintain. Second, health systems continue to be short-staffed and backlogged and each additional interoperability request runs into delays. Interoperability needs to be easier to set up or already turned on. Lastly, users have come to expect workflow interoperability. That means data exchanged should be presented seamlessly in the workflow whether it is for clinical or admin staff or for patients in their portal. It is not enough to bring data in and present it in a disjointed manner. Certain EMRs are ahead of the game when it comes to these challenges and exchange millions of records daily. As we enter 2023, we expect to see these other facets of interoperability getting more attention from the community.

Dave Jarvis, Director of Health Information Technology, 4medica
Twitter: @4medica

Value-based care requires the ability of providers and other healthcare stakeholders to have a 360-degree view of the patient. In 2023, hospitals, health plans, labs and other healthcare organizations will continue to improve clinical interoperability. By ensuring they have full access to patient data, healthcare organizations can improve data quality, identify patterns and trends critical to managing population health, and significantly improve efficiency and accuracy of billing processes.

Dr. Yossi Bahagon, Chairman, Sweetch
Twitter: @SweetchHealth

Innovating and Integrating Diabetes Devices
We should anticipate more inter-device integration, and a greater variety of devices including continuous glucose monitors (CGM), insulin pumps, and hybrid closed loop systems being introduced to the market. This will lead to advances in comfort, convenience, durability, and user-experience.

Anthony Puglisi, President and CEO, American Medical Solutions, Inc.
Twitter: @AHIOSnow

We expect 2023 to be the year that medical records access comes to the forefront – this includes patient access to data, interoperability, and the role of outsourced health information management (HIM) organizations. On October 6 of this year, the Information Blocking Law went into effect, broadening the scope of existing rules that required health IT vendors, providers and health information exchanges to enable patients to access and download their health records with third-party apps. The new rule states that providers can’t inhibit the access, exchange or use of health information unless the data falls within certain exceptions. It is expected that the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology will begin enforcement in the new year.

While the federal government continues to take small steps to facilitate patient access to their electronic medical records, not all information is available yet. What is clear, is that records officials and outsourced health information management organizations are critical players in the patient records access process, facilitating authorized access while protecting the privacy and security of patient medical data. We see their roles increasing as hospitals, medical practices and other providers do their part to release patient information in an efficient manner, while complying with these new regulations.

Buff Colchagoff, CEO, RosettaHealth
Twitter: @rosettahealth

RosettaHealth sees a few trends coming to the forefront in 2023. First – nationwide exchange utilization. Nationwide networks will become more prevalent. With Query and Retrieve being common now, other use cases will start gaining traction. As large HIEs and QHINs will provide much of the heavy lifting, more orchestrated scenarios can start to flourish. Second (and related) HIE consolidation. The landscape is becoming harder for smaller HIEs to be seen as value-added. Interoperability Infrastructure options are consolidating as well, with fewer options and less home-grown operations. This too represents a maturation of the marketplace. Third, a continued emphasis on nationwide public health exchanges. This is one of the few good things coming from the pandemic – a realization of investing in public health, and the need for nationwide collections built on common exchange components providing consistent, nationwide data. In short, a growing emphasis of exchange networks over local and point-to-point exchanges and a maturation of interoperability services within the market — all this will enable newer more complex and creative health information scenarios in the new year.

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