Special Report - Interoperability

Special Report: Interoperability

Jennifer Trueland investigates the growing readiness to confront the obstacles and issues impeding interoperability. Kaye Coholan, with a background in emergency department nursing, understands the importance of interoperability to the smooth operation of health services. “When working in triage as a nurse, you have around two minutes to determine the patient’s condition and cause for being in A&E,” explains Ms. Coholan, who is now a senior clinical consultant with Oracle Cerner.

Today, the interoperability discourse has transformed. It is no longer considered as a technological issue, but rather as a relationship- and culture-dependent transformation. Interoperability is the seamless exchange of high-quality, easily comprehensible, and sharable information across organizational, regional, and even national boundaries. Despite several goals and initiatives, health and care systems in the United Kingdom remain far from universal.

England’s Data Saves Lives strategy pushes for a culture of “interoperability by default” for the country’s health and social care institutions. This year, the King’s Fund also released a report on interoperability with recommendations for enhancing relationships and adherence to standards. It states that national NHS organizations should consider utilizing system-wide incentives and national initiatives to advance interoperability.

Interoperability is essential for patient safety and satisfaction. Although standards have helped, their acceptance has been extremely slow, and there is still a great deal of competitiveness and tribalism surrounding them, according to Steve Burton, director of clinical systems sales at Civica. There are numerous reasons why standards are difficult to implement, but a lot of good work is being done, he argues. “From what I can tell regarding interoperability, sure, there are developed EPR standards, and it is a central element of what they do; but, I believe the center has lost its concentration. Nationally, there is a need for more action from NHS leadership, according to him. What is truly lacking is a directive from the top and the center.

Mr. Burton is certain that there has been a cultural shift among providers, who now place less focus on safeguarding their own position within a trust or integrated care system and more emphasis on ensuring that things run smoothly. Customers have driven this cultural shift, he claims. “They have been anticipating and demanding delivery of interoperability. They employ intricate tactics. I believe trusts were primarily responsible for this, possibly even more so than the different central government policy measures. Trusts have been quite demanding, and as suppliers, we have responded accordingly “.

Source: digitalhealth