How to achieve interoperability: 5 key use cases

By and large, the healthcare industry has adopted EHRs, but interoperability remains a challenge. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association outlines five use cases that define an open or interoperable EHR.

Data exchange, according to the article, is dependent upon translating data into "an agreed-upon format with agreed-upon meaning." Agreeing on a data model for sharing and translating data is the biggest obstacle, the authors wrote.

Here are the five use cases that would create an open, interoperable EHR.

  1. Extract patient records while maintaining detail
  2. Transmit all or some of a record to another clinician on another EHR, or to a personal health record, without losing any of the data's structure
  3. Exchange requests for copies from external EHRs and return records in the standard format
  4. Move patient records to a new EHR
  5. Embed functionality within EHRs

EHRs with the ability to do the aforementioned tasks should also serve the following five key stakeholders: clinicians so they can provide effective care, researchers so they can continue making advancements, administrators so they can reduce reliance on a single-source EHR developer, software developers so they can develop new solutions, and patients so they can access their health data.

"Widespread access to 'open EHRs' that conform to at least the 5…use cases we propose is necessary if we are able to realize the enormous potential of an EHR-enabled healthcare system," the authors concluded.

More articles on interoperability:

25 things to know about health IT interoperability
Cerner SVP of medical informatics: 7 requirements to foster interoperability
Cerner CEO Neal Patterson testifies before Senate on HIEs: 4 key thoughts

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