The new year is an opportunity to reflect on the work we've done on the Interoperability team and the impact it's had on a personal level.
On a recent holiday trip, one of my sons became ill and after a visit to the pediatrician, he was prescribed medication. A day or two later, he wasn’t feeling better and needed to go to the local emergency room. During the visit, we identified the problem and began the appropriate course of treatment. After a few days, he felt well again. A week or so later, he went back to the pediatrician for a regular checkup and the pediatrician wanted to run a test. When we asked why it was being run and if records from the emergency room visit were reviewed, we learned that the results weren’t in my son’s record.
There are many explanations for this lack of sharing. However, none of them satisfied my wife since she asked if I was doing my job, which is to ensure data can be exchanged between care providers.
That exchange of data is interoperability, which occurs when information flows freely across organizational, vendor and geographic barriers. Data should not be restricted from moving between different information systems if the patient grants permission.
Each day when I am in the office, or visiting our clients, my goal is to ensure system connections for exchanging health data in order to advance patient care. What does this mean at a personal level? It means that my son doesn’t have to get another test because his doctor already has the desired information. It means being able to get the right care at the right time because your physician is able to access your records from another doctor. It means not having to reschedule an appointment that you took the kids to in the middle of the day but, in the rush of things, you left their vaccination records on the kitchen table.
In order to enable outcomes like those I just listed, Cerner has a number of interoperability solutions in our Connectivity Hub, such as orders and results, HIE and Direct messaging. Our health information exchange (HIE) enables users to exchange and view patient data from connected sources, regardless of the electronic health record. The HIE solution aggregates clinical documents and data and enables provider access via a web-based portal.
Across the Connectivity Hub solutions, users can collaborate with other care providers and share various types of clinical data, such as orders, results, clinical documents, images, immunizations and prescriptions. This is happening in some areas at the local and regional level, but full-scale data exchange at the national level is the next milestone we’re working toward.
Beyond our solutions, our investment in interoperability extends to co-founding the CommonWell Health Alliance. CommonWell is a nonprofit association with the vision that health data should be available to individuals and providers regardless of where care occurs. We believe in this vision and continue to connect our clients to CommonWell services, enabling them to exchange health data across the continuum via a standards-based connection.
We keep the patient at the center of everything we do, and it’s one of the most important reasons we’re advancing the mission of interoperability here at Cerner. I can’t wait for you to see what we accomplish in 2016.