Almost There: Interoperability Efforts Gaining Significant Ground


Interoperability EffortsMalcolm Gladwell calls it a tipping point and ONC’s Dr. Vindell Washington talks about inflection points, but what these concepts mean to health care are the same: real progress toward widespread interoperability.

At ONC’s annual meeting in May, Dr. Washington said the combination of  technology, policy, and demand are changing the way we think about access to health information and the ways in which it can be used to improve care.

Interoperability can play a significant role in this improvement given the industry’s transition to value-based care. Comprehensive, efficient care coordination across multiple facilities and widespread geographies is virtually impossible without a complete view of the patient. Additionally, to gain deeper insights into risk and population health, payers and providers need to access financial and clinical information that is traditionally scattered across disparate sources.

As interoperability gains a stronger foothold in the industry, new national infrastructures are being developed with common standards and policies. For example, the not-for-profit CommonWell Health Alliance represents a cross-vendor partnership that enables provider and patient access to information across the care continuum.

CommonWell makes patient records available across a broad range of care settings, including urgent care facilities, retail clinics, and physical therapy centers. It includes not only 72% of the acute-care EHR vendors and 34% of the ambulatory EHR vendors, but also leading imaging, post-acute care, perinatal, laboratory, retail pharmacy, oncology, and population health vendors.

You can learn more by watching a short video introducing CommonWell Services.

Getting serious about data sharing

Major advances in interoperability are also taking place in imaging, thanks to standardization and vendor-neutral products.

Savvy vendors committed to interoperability develop their products with inherent support for IHE and DICOM standards so they can enable multi-vendor collaboration and data sharing. The ability for imaging systems to communicate can help health systems improve both their workflows and their patient care through things like:

  • Lower number of redundant procedures
  • Less data entry
  • Streamlined clinician workflow

Forward thinking vendors are now turning their attention beyond IHE and DICOM to emerging standards like FHIR that let customers easily view images on mobile applications.

Imaging departments are moving toward a model that allows them to standardize their platforms at the enterprise level so data can move out of departmental silos and into a place where it is accessible for any clinician who needs it. They are adopting intelligent workflow management systems that integrate with multiple PACS to make cross-site collaboration easier and faster. And they’re integrating with the EHR to make the right imaging information available at the point of care.

As the pace of change in our industry continues to accelerate, it’s important to remember that interoperability is not simply about making a greater quantity of information available; it’s about connecting systems to make sure the right information is available when and where it’s needed so patients remain where they belong – in the center of care.

To learn more about Change Healthcare’s commitment to interoperability, visit us at or You can also book an appointment to speak to us in person at Booth 841 at AHRA from August 1-3.

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