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Interoperability vs. Health Information Exchange Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Dec 10th, 2020

Introduction

Agreeing on a specific terminology permits establishing a beneficial structure that allows transferring information between people efficiently and with ease. Within medicine, the existence of a pre-created vocabulary may be decisive when it becomes necessary to make a prompt decision regarding patients’ course of treatment. Medical professionals may expect the same effectivity in all aspects of their profession, relying on a fast transfer of information when administering care and using all possible tools to the best of their extent.

Therefore, information technology starts playing an essential role in a variety of medical institutions as an instrument that enables this type of productivity and has a considerable effect on patients’ wellbeing. Devising and adhering to a suitable set of terms within health care informatics may become crucial to securing the achieved advantages.

Definition of Terms

Interoperability and Health information exchange (HIE) are essential terms in health care informatics, recognizing the specifics of which may allow creating more structured and capable health care systems. Terminology is necessary to “support the exchange of clinical data,” which may become an impossible task if professionals overlook the importance of using a uniform language system (Narus, 2018, p. 82). Therefore, acknowledging the relevance of interoperability when attempting the creation of a medical intelligence network and, conversely, setting the exchange of healthcare information as the goal of interoperability permits devising a powerful knowledge system.

Interoperability

An increase in the variety of programs and hardware used due to more medical institutions integrating information technology into their healthcare process has resulted in the need for an all-platform approach. Researchers may link the failure of numerous initiatives to maintain a steady exchange of patients’ information between professionals with a lack of language and differing “technology architectures” (Vest & Martin, 2016, p. 296).

Therefore, one can define interoperable medical information as patient information, pertinent to the healthcare process, which a variety of platforms can recognize, process, and transfer. Interoperability, thus, is the capability of an institutional platform to perceive different material, which may be constructed using many information technology languages.

Health Information Exchange

HIE may seem like a more understandable term not only due to its seemingly more obvious name but also because it implies the existence of a pre-designed system to be used. As an example, Overhage (2016) and the Indiana health information exchange present a case of an operation aimed at modernizing the health informatics statewide. Therefore, HIE may be defined as “the electronic exchange of health information” that medical institutions may pursue to attempt the provision of higher quality healthcare (Godlove & Ball, 2015, p. 1). HIE, like the concept of interoperability, should not necessarily become essential but is instead the reflection of healthcare process modernization.

Appropriateness of Use

It becomes necessary to evaluate the soundness of the two terms when used interchangeably after having defined them and outlined their purpose. While both of them are relevant to healthcare information transfer process, interoperability deals solely with the transferability of knowledge, a quality inherent to the system and intelligence conveyed. HIE, on the other hand, is the act of sending and receiving relevant materials, which does not permit the two concepts to be either identical or independent of each other.

Conclusion

Information transferability between platforms without the ease of perception may not be possible and, therefore, the two outlined concepts become crucial when discussing medical information technology. The strong link between HIE and interoperability makes them essential concepts for healthcare informatics as factors directly affecting the quality of patient care. Even though their interchangeable terminological use may not be appropriately sound, their similarities could permit common usage of terms.

References

Godlove, T., & Ball, A. W. (2015). . Perspectives in Health Information Management, 12(2), 1-8. Web.

Narus, S. P. (2018). Technical infrastructure to support healthcare. In R. Nelson & N. Staggers (Eds.), Health informatics: An interprofessional approach (2nd ed., pp. 75-89). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.

Overhage, J. M. (2016). The Indiana health information exchange. In B. E. Dixon (Ed.), Health information exchange navigating and managing a network of health information systems (pp. 267-280). Cambridge, MA: Elsevier.

Vest, J., & Martin, E. (2016). Creating a 21st century health information technology infrastructure: New York’s health care efficiency and affordability law for New York’s capital grant program. In B. E. Dixon (Ed.), Health information exchange navigating and managing a network of health information systems (pp. 295-312). Cambridge, MA: Elsevier.

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