Blog

Navigating the Interoperability Landscape with the HIMSS Environmental Scan

Zooming roadway

Our HIMSS Interoperability Initiatives Environmental Scan is crafted to initiate simple comprehension of a complex arena: interoperability. The scan helps determine which solutions or approaches to interoperability are available, how they work and which ones might be right for your organization.

Interoperability is seen as a necessary (but not sufficient) prerequisite for driving a number of urgently needed transformations within our health system, including:

  • Disruptively empowering patients and clinicians
  • Breaking down silos
  • Democratizing health
  • Advancing the Triple Aim
  • Underpinning cross-sector collaborative innovation to address public health crises such as the opioid epidemic
  • Mobilizing us toward realizing a truly person-centered Learning Health System (LHS)

Building a Better Health System Together

At HIMSS18, prominent leaders from the federal government, health and technology innovators and entrepreneurs, patient activists, and HIMSS’s new President and CEO, Hal Wolf, all placed interoperability front and center of conversations, as the cornerstone of our shared efforts to build a better health system together.

Transforming the future of health together requires diverse stakeholders touching health data (and collectively affecting the health of people, communities, populations and the public), to not only work to achieve the capability of interoperability, but to actually drive interoperation. Getting started can feel overwhelming.

One can experience a sensation of drowning when sifting through the seemingly endless sea of information about interoperability. In searching for a “cure” to the fundamental interoperability challenge one’s organization faces, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and apprehensive when trying to reconcile all the ostensible panaceas out there.

Indeed, as a healthcare practitioner, the alphabet soup of organizations providing technology and support for an organization’s day-to-day clinical and business operations is mind-numbing. In addition, the potential workflow implications as well as the technology and requirements outlined under the ARRA and MIPS programs compound the level of confusion exponentially.

Health Information Exchange: A Critical Component to Interoperability

Health Information Exchange (HIE) – which is defined by HIMSS as providing the capability to electronically move clinical information among disparate healthcare information systems and maintain the meaning of the information being exchanged – is an area fraught with confusion for those less experienced in the area of health data exchange. However, it is a critical component to meet all of the federal and state requirements found in the legislative initiatives mentioned above. HIMSS has created this resource to help you understand how and where national interoperability and HIE efforts are occurring around the country; it can help answer those questions you may have regarding what is available, who to contact and how things work.

As an early adopter of HIE, our organization now participates on multiple networks. We have implemented HIE solutions from Carequality, eHealth Exchange, SureScripts and CareEverywhere, partly due to the lack of clarity in those national networks and standards. As these collaborations have expanded and grown over the last years, a good bit of crossover has occurred. For example, now (or in the near future), as a Carequality implementer, you may have access to multiple of the aforementioned networks, supporting the original idea of HIE, as a “network of networks,” where local, regional, state, national, and ultimately international networks connect and communicate with common security and messaging protocols.

This creates a cumulative effect, which:

  • Allows an organization connected in one network to connect with members of multiple networks
  • Facilitates unfettered exchange at a technical level throughout the U.S.
  • Supports wider-reaching global exchange

Utilizing and Updating the Environmental Scan

Now that the Environmental Scan is live, HIMSS plans to maintain this this tool as a living document – updating and amending as healthcare technology moves forward with new methods of interoperability (think blockchain) or as new organizations that are advocating for, organizing and implementing HIE come to the forefront.

This document is a publicly available resource for all to share and utilize. In turn, keeping it updated, accurate and replete with actionable information is a community-wide effort. We hope that this effort will help mobilize what you learn into action to empower your organization and to participate further in our shared quest to interoperate for better health across our nation and around the world.

If you have updated information to add to the document, suggestions to improve its user experience and usability or other constructive feedback, we strongly encourage you to email your comments to interop@himss.org.

#EmpowerHIT

The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

The HIMSS Interoperability Initiatives Environmental Scan was leveraged in the creation of the HIMSS Interoperability Call to Action, which provides principles to drive interoperability forward. We encourage you to consider becoming a champion or supporter of our Call to Action as well.