Why Do We Need Standards?

Standards are found in practically every area of our daily lives, but why do we need them in health information and technology?

Today’s current healthcare landscape consists of a variety of care settings and stakeholders, which all leverage a number of different information systems in their delivery of care. An individual may touch a number of different systems that must be able to communicate throughout his or her health journey.

From the hospital…

This individual could be admitted to the hospital for an acute condition. In this hospital, different vendors may be utilized for their laboratory, pharmacy, and EHR systems, yet each of these systems must be able to seamlessly share data to provide information needed to care for this individual.

…to the doctor’s office…

After leaving the hospital, the individual likely has other providers involved in the coordination of their care, who exist outside of the hospital’s health system. These physicians may also have different systems within their practices, but still need to access health information on their patient to obtain a more complete picture of their patient’s health.

…and into your personal records.

This individual might want to receive a care summary or test results to maintain for their own personal records. As the electronic exchange of health information becomes ubiquitous, the individual, or the consumer, is becoming an increasingly active stakeholder in this ecosystem.

In healthcare, standards provide a common language and set of expectations that enable interoperability between these systems and/or devices. Ideally, data exchange schema and standards should permit data to be shared between clinician, lab, hospital, pharmacy, and patient regardless of application or vendor in order to seamlessly digest information about an individual and improve the overall coordination and delivery of healthcare.

Explore the rest of this toolkit to learn more about these standards and their role in achieving interoperability.