Interoperability is the means by which health IT initiatives thrive.

Why interoperability matters when selecting an IT solution

One of the most critical factors for a successful electronic health record platform is whether or not data is fully interoperable between other software or across different networks. Information must be accessed or shared without encryption errors or other digital barriers, otherwise the efficiencies and capabilities enabled by IT solutions fall apart. 

According to the Xtelligent Media Network, without the ability to properly share or merge data, it can be impossible to fully maximize the use of new technologies like EHRs. When clinical information is fully interoperable however, providers and their medical teams see great benefits and new tools for developing targeted treatment plans and a more personalized patient experience. 

Improved communication
When the market for EHRs was just beginning to ripen, interoperability was a critical but vague ideal. As these IT solutions have become more prolific, the ability to share data has only grown in importance. 

In practice, the interoperability of clinical information gives physicians the ability to share outcomes and research data like never before. This improves collaborative care and group work, the possibility for consultation or reaching out for a second opinion and also strengthens data sets that can be used to make more informed treatment plans.

Minimizing mistakes
Interoperability is an important standard for health IT software, because when computers cannot communicate effectively, there is a possibility that information is lost or manipulated along the way. For less robust platforms, this could change data as it is sent from a lab to a physicians', which of course could have very serious implications for patient outcomes.

Computers are still much more efficient at storing information than paper records, and are effective for minimizing human error. Still, selecting the right IT vendor is critical, because without full data interoperability, information may be inadvertently mismanaged as it is shared throughout a practice or network. 

Customized orthopedic care
Researchers at the University of Niš in Serbia have found that orthopedics in particular can benefit from interoperability measures. Not only does effective data sharing improve efficiency in daily workflow and tasks, but by improving access to a patient's health history, orthopedic surgeons and consulting doctors may be able to tailor specific treatment plans and care models.

The source stated that an intimate knowledge of an individual through improved EHR access can help qualify patients for customized orthopedic implants or therapies. By making data interoperable, specific metrics or manufacturing needs can be communicated quickly and effectively, which may allow for custom orthopedic surgery and devices.

More accurate treatment overall 
Start to finish, ensuring data and patient information can be shared smoothly and efficiently throughout a practice allows for the best possible results. A physician can conveniently access and update an individual's health history using an EHR and from there, a consulting specialists or orthopedic surgeon can use this information to make a more educated decision and develop a more targeted treatment plan. As the patient prepares to go home, even inputting billing information and accessing lab results are made more effective with interoperability standards.