As more and more healthcare organizations move down the path to achieve patient health data interoperability, some important realizations are starting to be made. The first is that achieving compliance with the CMS regulations is really just the first leg of what would be considered a true ability to seamlessly share all sources of patient health data. The second is that it will take a concerted effort to get there.
It therefore becomes important to understand the difference between basic interoperability and semantic interoperability. Basic interoperability is achieved primarily through enhancements provided by your primary EHR vendor, or by implementing a right-sized technical architecture to enable seamless EDI interactions between various payer reimbursement systems and your digitized patient records. This is accomplished primarily through APIs, the way data and applications interoperate in the cloud. It’s the most straightforward process to achieve compliance with the CMS rules as they are stated.
Semantic interoperability, however, describes an operating environment in which all healthcare data systems have the ability to exchange data with unambiguous and machine-level understanding of the underlying data. It is the complete capability for joining all structured and unstructured medical data in a real-time, consumable form. This opens up the opportunity for tremendous expansion of medical knowledge. medical discovery, the acceleration of drug development and efficacy trials, and for providing a much more cohesive, and value-based, healthcare delivery system.
This last point deserves some additional focus. If achieving a Value Based Care status for your organization is a strategic objective, then semantic interoperability bears more investigation. Many healthcare organizations are at a very critical juncture coming out of the extraordinary experience of the global pandemic, with a critical need to improve patient experience and jumpstart revenue cycles. One of the requirements for implementing an effective value-based care environment is achieving complete health data interoperability-which, as we have demonstrated, has many dimensions.
Stay tuned, as we will be presenting some interesting case studies that expand on the topic of semantic interoperability, the critical next step for true value based care.