Promoting Interoperability

Adoption of EHR system has truly become the foundation and pillar of today’s healthcare. At the same time, unfortunately, this has created the challenge of sharing information. Mainly, the problem revolves around patient data trapped inside the individual healthcare organization or network. However, in reality, patient care is a continuum of care which involves healthcare outside of one healthcare organization or network. To streamline the healthcare system and improve care for patients and produce better outcomes, secure sharing of clinical data across healthcare organizations is required.The key component for achieving this secure clinical data sharing is “Interoperability”. 

Now, healthcare providers are being asked to adopt EHR systems with the ability to share clinical data with both patients and outside healthcare organizations. Interoperability is a crucial measure in the ACI category of MIPS/MACRA.

With the adoption of EHR, new digital technologies are emerging like Digital Health, mobile computing, AI, and VR. The next phase of development in the modern healthcare industry is to improve patient/provider relationships and overall healthcare outcomes with “Interoperability”.

The pressing need for interoperability is the top priorities for thought leadership, governmental agencies (CMS, ONC) and healthcare technology software companies like EHI involved in supporting the healthcare industry. The 21st Century Cures Act, Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) data standard, and proposed rules by the ONC are some of the solutions emerging to solve the lack of interoperability.

CMS has stated that electronic health record (EHR) systems nationwide to be interoperable by the year 2024.

There are still many technical and political challenges keeping software vendors from fully achieving this goal—but medical practices don’t have to wait years to start exchanging patient data electronically. It is here today through one of the interoperability method “Direct Messaging”.

Direct secure messaging, also known simply as Direct, is the ONC’s name for a set of communications and security protocols that facilitate “point-to-point communication and sharing of patient data between providers over the internet.

Simply put, DIRECT is a national encryption standard for securely exchanging clinical healthcare data via the Internet.  Direct is a standardized way of exchanging health information over the Internet. It’s similar to email, but the difference is Direct messages are authenticated and encrypted in a specific way to ensure sensitive data is sent and received by authorized parties only. Like an email address, you need a DIRECT address to send a DIRECT message.

EHR systems will need to integrate Direct Messaging with their EHR platform (MU2 standards). Direct Messaging is an integrated feature of EHI’s MDNet Electronic Health Record platform. EHI’s Direct messaging component is wrapped up in the MACRA requirements for interoperability. EHI has integrated Direct Messaging in such a way that doctors can use with little or no training involved. It is as simple as using an email system.

These are some important benefits:

  1. Security: Unlike other methods of exchanging health information (Fax, unsecured email, mail, couriers), Direct has layers of encryption and authentication for communications to be HIPAA complaint and secured. You now have seamless and instant data exchange. A Doctor can refer patients electronically, and if a Patient had an ER visit or came into their pharmacy for a vaccination the respective healthcare entity can share patient data instantly. National Pharmacy Chains like CVS, Walgreens and others are already sharing Vaccine information to Doctors through DIRECT messaging

  2. Convenience: Follow-up questions or consultation with providers in your referral network is more convenient and faster using Direct Messaging than coordinating time for a telephone call.

  3. Efficiency and cost savings: Clinical staff do not have to take expensive time photocopying and faxing or mailing clinical documentations of a patient to other providers in the referral network. In the long run, saving can be achieved by cutting down on papers and courier overhead.

  4. Compliance: Doctors can improve their MIPS/MACRA points by scoring higher using DIRECT messaging since it’s a mandatory measure. You’ll be covering 2 base measures out of 5 by implementing DIRECT messaging.

Lastly, across all healthcare entities , Providers can now provide better continuum of care.

Let’s not create more waste in healthcare. Avoid manual data entries, and paperwork.

Learn more about DIRECT and visit today!

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