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Anil Jain


Although healthcare providers are making great progress in their push toward coordinated value-based care, interoperability among information systems remains challenging.

According to one recent survey by eHealth Initiative and Premier of 68 public and private accountable care organizations, 85 percent have technologies in place that allow them to capture and interpret data from the various information systems within their organizations. But most are challenged with integrating data from out-of-network providers. 

More than two-thirds of them are having a particularly hard time assimilating information from specialty-care settings — in-network and out-of-network alike — despite their investments in health information technology.

It’s easy to see how interoperability might be the key to coordinated care. If an organization is to achieve better outcomes for a defined population at lower cost, its many clinical and administrative systems must be able to communicate and exchange relevant data.

The problem, of course, is that organizations typically are not able to do so. “Information systems are designed for the unique needs of different settings and specialties,” reads a report put out by the eHealth Initiative and Premier team in the wake of its survey. Because systems lack a “common language” to facilitate information sharing, interoperability “is often nonexistent or requires complex interfaces for standardizing and transmitting data.”

Without interoperability, it’s impossible for providers to know for sure if a patient’s records are comprehensive. And without key information from disparate systems collected and available in a single place, it’s impossible to use data analytics to develop the insights that ultimately improve performance. Although that exchange of information is often not enough, it is a key first step to make information that is subsequently actionable and credible.