How Can EMRs Benefit From Improved Interoperability?

by The DermEngine Team on Oct 5, 2018

Healthcare services have been profoundly impacted by the use of electronic medical records (EMR) platforms in recent years, making patients’ medical histories readily available in digital format. However, interoperability among platforms still remains a barrier. In this article, the nature of interoperability will be discussed alongside the current approaches to overcome these challenges. 

1. The nature and limitations of interoperability
Interoperability is defined as the ability for information technology systems to successfully exchange data and extract meaning from the information shared.1 In order for this to happen, it’s necessary to count on the correct compatibility among dermatology EMRs to exchange patient data and also be able to successfully interpret it.
 
Despite the wealth of EMRs that have come to populate various healthcare disciplines, the capacity of these software solutions are not yet at the level of fully utilizing patient medical history created on a different EMR platform. In other words, there is a need to intentionally include interoperability features as a part of the EMR development plan for a given practice. The participation of the software proprietor to purposefully include integrative attributes is indeed a major step forward in creating entirely interoperable platforms. 
 Interoperability improved by semantic approach platform cross-talk - EMR Dermatology Software
 

To better understand the limitations currently faced, it is crucial to analyze the three levels where interoperability works as a health information technology to exchange patient information2:

- Foundational: represents the most basic level of data sharing. Systems can exchange patient history, but without the ability to interpret it.

- Structural: this intermediate level of communication allows for the exchanging of information and limited data interpretation.

- Semantic: represents the most advanced exchange between systems. When communication occurs at the semantic level, it allows for the complete utilization of shared data by operatively different EMRs.

Any degree of interoperability that can only reach the two first levels will fall short in satisfying current field demands. Rather, an integral semantic approach will be able to achieve improved quality, safety and efficiency in healthcare delivery.

2. Improving EMRs cross-talk with semantics
Achieving complex conversational features between two technically unrelated platforms is a challenge that requires human-like communication features.

In general terms, semantics is defined as the branch of linguistics that is concerned with meaning. In regards to EMR software interoperability, semantics involves the creation of concepts (the definition of a particular subject) and the relationships between these concepts.3 In other words, connecting concepts in networks so they become machine-readable much like words in a language acquire meaning when used in a certain context. If such degree of standardization can be obtained for a wide range of concepts, then utilization of shared data among EMRs can be streamlined.

Interoperability supported by cloud-based intelligent dermatology EMR software

3. Intelligent dermatology software as solution
The development of cloud-based intelligent software solutions, such as DermEngine (part of a SaaS approach), has had great impact in the way current interoperability barriers are tackled. These systems have the ability for easy integration to a variety of popular healthcare EMRs granting access to stored patient data. Simultaneously, they become the user’s operating interface, thus creating a commonly shared platform regardless of the original EMR system’s brand. As a result, these software work to unify EMRs in a truly interoperable approach, allowing efficient communication among users across different platforms

Conclusion

The incorporation of EMR software in healthcare has brought many advantages. However, it also made evident that interoperability constitutes a technical barrier in patient data sharing and utilization. Cloud-based intelligent software has brought significant improvement. While there is not a single solution approach to interoperability challenges, and improvements are still needed, intelligent software remains the best option to a seamless integration and data utilization for efficient daily practice.

-The MetaOptima Team

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Sources:
  1. https://pulse.embs.org/november-2014/solving-interoperability-challenge/ 
  2. https://www.himss.org/library/interoperability-standards/what-is 
  3. http://www.iiis.org/CDs2008/CD2009SCI/BMIC2009/PapersPdf/B081AR.pdf 

Topics: Dermatology EMR Dermatology Software Dermatology EMR Solution Cloud Based EMR EMR Solutions Dermatology EMR Software Dermatology EMR System Dermatology