The Impact of EHR Interoperability on Patient Safety
Interoperability is already making a significant impact on the healthcare sector.
It provides benefits to both larger organizations and smaller practices — despite a few potential barriers to overcome.
The primary goal of interoperability in healthcare is improving patient care — ensuring that patients receive the best quality and most efficient care possible.
A key component of patient care is overall patient safety.
So, how does interoperability impact patient safety?
Interoperability describes the ability of one or more systems to transfer, access, and interpret data.
With electronic health records (EHRs), interoperability allows providers at every level to share patient’s medical records. This includes patient medical history, medications, allergies, and any other relevant health information.
As laid out by HealthIT.gov:
“EHR Interoperability enables better workflows and reduced ambiguity, and allows data transfer among EHR systems and health care stakeholders. Ultimately, an interoperable environment improves the delivery of health care by making the right data available at the right time to the right people.”
This sharing of data provides a wealth of benefits for both patients and providers alike, particularly regarding patient safety.
How Does EHR Interoperability Improve Patient Safety?
From having a patient’s full history to ensure proper care to the fast exchange of information should a patient need urgent care, there are plenty of ways EHR interoperability includes patient safety.
Here, we'll discuss five examples of this improved care.
Complete Access to Accurate Patient Information
EHR interoperability allows healthcare professionals and providers to have complete access to accurate patient data.
Why is this important?
For patients seeing multiple providers, getting accurate patient information can be a challenge. Providers may need to rely on a patient recalling all of their own medical information, including medications, allergies, and anything else associated with their condition.
In some cases, patients may not even be in a condition to relay this information themselves.
EHR interoperability removes the need to spend additional time trying to find this important medical information. Instead, it’s all at the fingertips of the provider.
This drastically reduces things like medication errors, allergic reactions, and other threats to patient safety.
Access to the latest and most up-to-date patient information is crucial in healthcare.
For example, PaceMate's interoperability with EHRs allows us to pull medications and diagnosis codes directly from the EHR in response to new cardiac event transmissions and review them together.
Some medications are changed frequently. A medication such as anticoagulants may be added or removed from a patient's medication list in other settings, like if they are seen in an emergency department for a fall. If they have a cardiac arrhythmia that requires anticoagulants to keep them safe, it's imperative that that information be correct in their record.
The real-time medical information updates provided by EHR interoperability can save lives. It’s one of the biggest contributors to improving patient safety and care.
Better Care Coordination
For many patients, seeing multiple providers is normal.
At the very least, patients will often see a primary care physician and a pharmacist for any prescribed medication.
Because of this, it’s important to have the best possible care coordination — in other words, seamless communication and collaboration between different providers.
With EHR interoperability, there’s no guesswork involved. Every provider involved in the treatment of a patient has the latest data available to them at every level.
It can also help with referrals or transitions of care. Patients who are referred from one professional to another will be in good hands with EHR interoperability since the new provider will have all of the information they need at their fingertips.
Lastly, EHR interoperability makes collaboration on a care plan easier than ever. Any provider involved in the treatment of a patient has the latest data available to them and can make alterations based on the patient's goals.
For example, a patient with diabetes may require input from a primary care physician, an endocrinologist, a registered dietician, and several other providers. The care coordination provided by EHR interoperability allows them to work together seamlessly and create the best possible plan for the patient.
More Efficient Triaging
The importance of efficient triaging cannot be overstated. When patients come to emergency care, there needs to be an efficient system in place to ensure that the most critical patients are seen first.
With so many different factors at play, triaging can be a difficult task. Assessing the patient’s current state is an important step, but providers must also have any background medical information that could affect the patient.
In some cases, medical history demonstrates the need for a patient to be seen immediately.
Since EHR interoperability gives healthcare providers streamlined access to comprehensive patient data, this enables them to efficiently manage the triaging process with pertinent information immediately available in high-pressure circumstances.
Additionally, integrating intelligent software algorithms can automate aspects of clinical triage, allowing clinicians to prioritize patients requiring immediate attention.
With PaceMate, for example, our ability to pair a patient’s current medications and diagnosis codes with their cardiac transmissions allows us to elevate actionable patients above others. Each piece of information on its own is an incomplete story — however, we can pull the information together and automatically prioritize the patients who need to be seen first.
Improved Patient Engagement
EHR interoperability typically involves some sort of patient portal. Here, patients can get a full overview of their treatment plan and take an active role in the process. In turn, this can lead to overall better outcomes with treatment.
Empowered patients also have improved communication with providers through secure messaging on these portals. Here, they can have discussions about treatment options, ask questions, make appointments, and request refills. Patients then have a safe and secure way to reference these messages in the future.
Patients taking an active role in treatment can also lead to better health literacy, thanks to a better understanding of their condition, preventative measures, and treatment options.
PaceMate’s Interoperable Solution Improves Patient Safety
With PaceMate’s solution, you can take advantage of interoperability and improve patient safety within your organization. For example, automatic triaging and real-time access to patient information, such as medication changes.
Check out PaceMate’s resources and learn more about how we can help today!