Will and how will interoperability be achieved this year?

Author Name Kyle Murphy, PhD

Is this the year that EHR adopters will have the benefit of interoperable EHR systems? That is the question that has lingered over the past few years within the healthcare and health IT communities. But what that question may be missing is a clear idea of what interoperability will look like.
“If we are open to a definition of interoperability having multiple layers, then the answer to your question is yes that in this year we’re going to see interoperability,” says Micky Tripathi, Co-Chair of the Tiger Team and CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative (MAeHC).
“It’s going to happen shockingly, somewhat in the way that people were thinking early on in the meaningful use process that it would happen,” he continues. “I say shockingly because who would’ve guessed. It feels very messy right now and everyone feels a bit underwhelmed by the progress that we’ve made.”
According to Tripathi, there are three phases in working toward truly interoperable systems. The first involves getting healthcare organizations and providers on to an EHR:
The first wave was (and that was corresponding with meaningful use phase one) to get systems into the hands of clinicians so that they can do something electronic to begin with. Remember that we started off with ten percent EHR penetration and now we’re above 70 percent. In Massachusetts, we’re approaching 80 percent. And that’s just since President Obama was elected. You think about how short a period of time that was and the sea change that’s happened in that.
An important component of this EHR adoption is that the systems currently in the hands of health systems, hospitals, and physician practices are real health IT systems as opposed to attempts at putting applications such Microsoft Word and FileMaker into service as the means of documenting patient encounters.
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