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Interoperability: The Foundation of Impactful Health Innovation

Team of healthcare providers

Interoperability: the ultimate healthcare goal, the ultimate challenge, and the critical foundation needed to support impactful innovation of health and care. It is a highly complex topic with a variety of nuances – but when you break down the basics, it’s clear that in order to meet healthcare goals, connectivity is crucial.

“The current state of our healthcare ecosystem is more disconnected than connected,” said Mari Greenberger, director of informatics at HIMSS, citing facts and milestones in a special publication from The National Academy of Medicine.

“Healthcare technology has long been purchased in a one-off manner and often with uncoordinated approaches,” Greenberger continued. “This report highlighted that progress is stunted due to the lack of consistency around standard implementation, inconsistent purchasing strategies and diverging incentives for vendors across the healthcare continuum.” In this blog post, she outlines five key action priorities for healthcare organizations and systems leaders to prioritize in their interoperability procurement strategies.

Greenberger helps champion HIMSS’s major interoperability efforts, including the HIMSS Call to Action – dedicated to the achievement of secure, nationwide electronic exchange of health information. Listen to the podcast below for a more detailed overview.

HIMSS Interoperability Resources

Another major resource HIMSS has contributed to the world of interoperability includes an Interoperability Initiatives Environmental Scan. The scan was created to provide an image of the current landscape in which interoperable, nationwide health information exchange (HIE) occurs, and offers a wide range of details on each entity. The scan is updated regularly as these entities further their exchange efforts and as new approaches gain traction.

In addition to contributing to the interoperability resources mentioned previously, the HIMSS Interoperability & Health Information Exchange Toolkit Work Group has worked diligently to build case studies documenting interoperability journeys, sharing them publicly with health information and technology professionals on the HIMSS website. The case studies serve as a helpful guide to other organizations getting started on their own journey to interoperability.

Related: Understanding Your Interoperability Journey: Gaining Insights through Case Studies

Case study topics covered include identifying organizational stakeholders, establishing a governance structure to make vital decisions, getting organizational buy-in and managing implementation successes and failures. Explore a few of these case studies provided by the workgroup to learn more.

Interoperability Case Study: Atrium Health
Interoperability Case Study: MiHIN
Interoperability Case Study: The Oregon Clinic

Interoperability Definition Call for Comments

HIMSS is updating our definition of interoperability and we’d love to hear from you. Review the latest definition as shared by HIMSS and provide your feedback by March 23.

Interoperability & Health Information Exchange Committee
Help advance interoperability and standards-based health IT systems that lead to meaningful health information exchange. Join the committee

HIMSS Interoperability Call to Action
Our Call to Action offers guiding principles to inform health policy and spur our nation’s health sector to action. Become a supporter

Originally published November 7, 2018, updated February 21, 2019