Adding the Patient to the Interoperability Definition

Apr 11, 2019 11:27:08 AM / by Debi Willis, CEO and Founder, PatientLink; part of the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase™ initiative

The HIMSS Interoperability Showcase, part of the HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition, demonstrates interoperability – the ability for different technology systems to communicate – in real-time with actual products in the marketplace. The following guest post shares the impact seamless data exchange can have on patients, providers and caregivers.

Including patients in interoperability is not just a good idea, it is necessary for patient safety.

It wasn’t that long ago that most people had one doctor for all their illnesses. They saw the same doctor for their stomach problems, heart problems, and sometimes even to deliver their babies.

As healthcare has specialized, we now have a doctor for practically every organ of our body. As a result, our medical records are fractured and scattered across all those doctors, with most of them not having information from our other doctors. This splintering of our medical records is not just difficult on the patients and providers, it is a real serious safety issue.

A recent study from Johns Hopkins stated that medical errors are now the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. Of the eight common root causes of medical errors, communication problems and inadequate information flow are listed as the top reasons.

With the multiplication of care providers for a single person, the chances for incorrect or incomplete information in their medical records increases. For example, I once had a care provider that indicated I was on a medication that I was never prescribed nor used. Each time I visited my doctor over a two-year period, I asked the nurse rooming me to please remove the incorrect medication. Each time I was assured it would be removed and it wasn’t. Numerous similar stories are shared with me when I speak about errors in the medical record. It is a widespread and serious issue.

As engaged consumers and patients, we MUST be the guardian of our data if we want to assure it is correct. After all, this is the information they are using to treat us. When the patient serves as the hub for information exchange, they are empowered to make sure that their care providers have all their information – and that it is correct.

Make sure your care providers know you, the patient, expect to be included in their definition of “Interoperability.”