Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Sunday, May 9, 2021

Interoperability Still Hurdle for Healthcare IT 

Healthcare providers are often blamed with slowing down the industry’s technological adoption by being sluggish in picking up the latest tools. But Linda M. Girgis, a physician with Girgis Family Practice, has asked the question, “Is the technology being offered worth adapting to?”

The ultimate goal when healthcare IT providers talk about electronic health records can be narrowed down to one word: interoperability. With it, doctors and nurses would be able to access patient data from any device on any system.

But after trying to interface her electronic health records (EHR) software with her website for eight months, Girgis says in an article for Healthcare Technology Online “the reality is the technology is just not there yet. In my own practice, I have struggled to make my own systems interoperable.”

Part of the problem, she explains, is that the inability to interface with the patient portal wastes time and increases the likelihood that patient information could be entered into the wrong chart.

While Girgis says that the EHR has managed to interface with two large labs (Quest and Labcorp), smaller labs have tried and failed to do the same. Nearby hospitals and radiology facilities have the same trouble, so Girgis has to log into the individual websites, download test results and paste them into a patient’s chart.

The result, she says, is that patients are often left in the dark for too long while test results are in a queue waiting to be filed.

Although Girgis didn’t name her EHR provider, she did note that despite the eight-month waiting period, whenever she or her staff call the support line, they are told that their interfacing is first on their priority list, although they cannot estimate when the interfacing will be completed.

“As it stands now, there are numerous EHR vendors out there making it overwhelmingly difficult for a provider to know which one is best,” Girgis says. “For now, we have to wait for the technology to catch up to our aspirations. But once this happens, the ability to interface and communicate between systems will make us more efficient and save time, freeing us up to spend more time with our patients. It also should decrease the risk of results being misfiled.”

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