- A workgroup convened by the American Hospital Association has identified a host of activities for both the private and public sector to complete in order to advance health IT interoperability. As it turns out, the main responsibility of providers is to communicate how they want to exchange health information with other providers.
The Interoperability Advisory Group (IAG) published its findings — Achieving Interoperability that Supports Care Transformation — earlier this month and which focus on three areas key to enabling the timely and secure exchange of health information among healthcare providers: priorities for information sharing, barrier to interoperability, and actions to improve interoperability.
The last area comprises two categories of actions — one for members of the private sector (e.g., providers, vendors, health information exchanges [HIEs]) , the other for those in the public sector (e.g., federal and state governments — that highlight the significant amount of work that must be accomplished in order to achieve widespread health IT interoperability.
For providers, the main actions necessary center on their communication with health IT vendors. For one, they need to set expectations that vendors adhere to appropriate health IT standards. "Providers can promote the adoption of agreed upon standards by vendors via procurement specifications and contract language," the report states.
Secondly, providers have the responsibility for identifying use cases for their health IT systems to support. These use cases, however, must not be too narrow in their scope:
Rather than identifying discrete use cases, providers should consider a set of related use cases and clinical scenarios to identify where and how data should flow. Detailed use cases that map from current realities can then feed into a systems approach for designing IT solutions that starts from the core set of data that is most important to meet clinical needs. Providers also can inform development of better products by providing insight on how data are used and what best supports workflow.
In short, this second activity emphasizes the need for increased user-centered design.
Translating these needs into reality next requires providers to play an important role in health IT testing.
"Providers must work with federal and private sector partners to identify what they want systems to be able to accomplish and how they should perform so that more robust test beds that meet their needs can be developed," the report's authors explain.
The IAG report then calls on provider to invest in standardizing their care processes and use of health IT systems.
"Once vendor systems accommodate standardized implementations that support information sharing, end users will need to adopt them as well," states the report. "These changes may require significant efforts to educate workforce and establish a culture that embraces standardized approaches."
Lastly, the AHA workgroup calls on providers to share lessons learned and best practices with other providers.
"The health care field has experienced several areas of success that could provide lessons learned," the report continues. "Continued efforts to learn from others’ experiences and distill best practices will foster progress."
The full IAG report contains the responsibilities for other private and public sector players.