Interoperability Could Save Health Systems Billions

Health information technology (HIT) system advancements, including medical device improvements, could account for more than $30 billion per year in savings.

Health information technology (HIT) system advancements, including medical device improvements, could account for more than $30 billion per year in savings.

According to a West Health Institute (WHI) report, HIT is complex, and requires better interoperability or connectivity between systems and devices. Interoperability also streamlines the process of exchanging data between 2 systems, including devices such as defibrillators and ventilators. Coordinating information among systems and devices is key to reducing miscommunication and decreasing the risk of adverse events.

“We see an enormous opportunity to use information technology and device innovation to bring about the much needed transformation in healthcare delivery,” said Joseph M. Smith, MD, chief medical and science officer of WHI. “Today’s hospitals are filled with medical devices that are unable to share critical data, creating potential dangers to patients, as well as inefficiencies that put a tremendous financial burden on our healthcare system.”

WHI based its conclusions on interviews with various healthcare stakeholders. They found that less redundant testing, clinicians spending less time entering information, and many other cost-effective quality measures would result in reducing HIT costs.

In an official statement, Karen DeSalvo, MD, national coordinator for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), said interoperability will improve patient outcomes and care delivery.

“ONC envisions an information-rich, consumer-centered healthcare system that allows a patient’s health information to follow them wherever they get their care,” said Dr DeSalvo. “We are working with patients, providers, and others across healthcare and health IT to securely and safely free health information that will help to improve patient care and health, at lower costs.”

Nicolas Valeriani, chief executive at WHI, said that while interoperability has always been an important issue for industry stakeholders, patients are also anxious for an improved healthcare experience.

“Interoperability can enable a smarter healthcare delivery system, and I encourage all stakeholders to recognize that the lack of interoperability is a crisis and to advocate for rapid change,” he said.

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