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A Quick Intro To Interoperability

Interoperability is one of the highest trending words that one might hear if they are stepping into the wonderful world of EHealth. It has become so necessary that one would probably have a chapter or two on it in every health informatics degree.

Interoperability in simple terms is the way in which one system communicates with another to help ease the decision making process and thus aide in improving the care process. Imagine one day Ms. Jane Doe is scheduled for an MRI by Hospital A. Now in the absence of an interoperable environment the radiology facility would have to either physically transport the scans through a person, fax or courier. However, imagine if there was a situation where the radiology facility could update the hospital A of the status of the MRI scan as well as send the scans directly to the medical record associated with Ms. Jane. Such a situation would save Hospital A a lot of money, time and help improve the quality and time of the decision making process. This situation shows one of the benefits of implementing an interoperable system and there are many more !

However, there are some tricky areas one needs to eliminate (which is quite hard) to achieve the true benefit of having an integrated health information system. Prominent being that of privacy and security. An advance in technology also means an advance in techniques for hacking. There is always a threat lurking to steal one’s personal health information to earn some big bucks or use it for some other illegal purpose especially in developing countries where there aren’t as stringent privacy laws to protect health information.

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By Sunil Mammen

An eHealth professional specializing in health informatics research and management, health policy and documentation. [LinkedIn]

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