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To provide effective and patient-centered care, it is important to organize the exchange of information and personal data among health care facilities. As a result, any achievements associated with improving the process of exchanging the information are important to be discussed in detail.
In 2011, the EHR Vendor Affinity Group and Beacon Communities, as well as other EHR vendors, organized their efforts to develop the strategy for overcoming such IT issues as interoperability. Such vendors as Cerner, GE, Allscripts, Greenway, SuccessEHS, NextGen, and Vitera were oriented to developing and formulating the solutions to the identified issue (“Vendors and Communities Working Together” par. 4).
The problem of interoperability was determined to be important because of the necessity to provide an efficient plan of action for improving the health care management and exchange of health care data.
The problem is in the fact that even if EHRs and integrated HIE are adopted by health care providers, it is often impossible to use EHRs appropriately because of the lack of interoperability. Isolated and often heterogeneous electronic systems are usually used by different health care providers, and this fact limits their possibilities to exchange the necessary information without barriers (“Vendors and Communities Working Together” par. 2).
As a result, EHRs cannot be used to improve the quality of the provided care because physicians and other health care professionals are not able to use the required medical information. Even though there are many EHR and HIE vendors, they do not use certain interoperability standards to enter, store, and exchange the information with the help of EHRs and HIE.
To address the identified challenges, three concrete steps were accentuated as the parts of the complex solution to the discussed problem. The first step was oriented to determining what data elements were most important to support certain cases in the process of exchanging the data.
The second step was formulated about the necessity of conducting the specific assessment of EHR vendors’ technological resources and abilities to generate the required data elements identified previously. The final third step was to determine conditions for improving the current versions of Continuity of Care Documents (CCD) used by the EHR vendors to address the problem and support the initiatives of Beacon Communities (“Vendors and Communities Working Together” par. 5).
The formulated steps and actions enabled vendors to use certain structured data to make access to information and medical data easier. As a result, the focus on developing the structure of data elements and other important elements to standardize the process of exchanging the data has led to simplifying the strategy for accessing the data by health care providers and other professionals interested in the medical information.
Referring to the issue of the query-based exchange, the providers received the opportunity to access the necessary information quickly, without facing additional barriers associated with sharing the medical information within systems. In this context, Affinity Group pilots were proposed to assess the effectiveness of the formulated approach (“Vendors and Communities Working Together” par. 7).
The solution also addressed such general issues as the role of interoperability for influencing the market and the overall increase in the quality and effectiveness of the provided health care for patients. Thus, the use of standardized and structured elements is important to minimize clicks and to improve the efficiency of the medical data exchange.
The benefits associated with improving the approach to exchanging the health information used in the electronic form are important for health care providers of all levels because they receive the opportunity to make the delivery of care more efficient, accurate, complete, and appropriate due to orienting to the full medical information exchanged upon the request.
The possibilities to manage and coordinate the care also become expanded. While trying to identify the concrete benefits associated with the activities of Affinity Group, it is important to pay attention to a range of advantages for health care providers (“Vendors and Communities Working Together” par. 8). Thus, the structured systems are important to realize the flow of the medical information that is effectively coordinated. It is important to focus on moving the data and parts of the information to appropriate health care providers promptly.
The focus on data elements and structured systems are important to make EHRs effective to use them for exchanging the data when all the necessary transition information is known and available to the users of the system. The next benefit is associated with saving time for health care providers who can access and use important information as quickly as possible.
As a result, the workflow can be affected only positively (“Vendors and Communities Working Together” par. 9). Furthermore, access to the effectively organized and equally available medical and patient data is important to reduce the overall costs related to managing the data and to improve the quality of patient-specific care.
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Next Steps and Further Recommendations
The active use of proposed strategies and specific CCD can enable vendors to revise the overall approach to improving the specifics of exchanging the data. It is possible to take further steps in improving HER technology to achieve higher results.
The further integration of Affinity Group pilots can be discussed as an important step toward developing the quality and efficiency of EHR platforms (“Vendors and Communities Working Together” par. 11). While discussing the prospects for overcoming the issue of interoperability in the future, it is important to state that the use of the determined structured elements can become wider.
In this case, Affinity Group pilots can be used as examples for other models and for other communities that are interested in addressing the issue of interoperability at the next stages. The other important stages are associated with the further development of standards for EHRs and HIE that are important to guarantee interoperability within systems.
Thus, during the next two stages of the discussion of the use of structured elements, it is possible to propose and adopt new approaches to overcoming the other technical issues. The further focus on the ONC’s Standards & Interoperability Framework is also expected to enhance collaboration between technology specialists, developers, and vendors (“Vendors and Communities Working Together” par. 16).
The EHR Vendor Affinity Group and Beacon Communities focused on the problem of interoperability of EHRs and HIE that prevented users from effective access to the data and exchange of information. The series of actions were identified to address the problem efficiently and to contribute to the improvement of the health care delivery’s quality.
Vendors and Communities Working Together: A Catalyst for Interoperability and Exchange. 2013. Web.