What Is Interoperability in Health Care?
So what is interoperability in health care? At its most basic, interoperability is the ability of a health care practitioner's information technology (IT) system to interface with systems of other clinicians to assist the practitioner in providing seamless, well informed care to every patient. Health Information and Management Systems (HIMSS), an industry leader in health information technology (HIT), suggests that systems that meet the standards for interoperability "should permit data to be shared across clinicians, lab, hospital, pharmacy, and patient, regardless of the [system's] application or application vendor."1
Interoperability, then, is an essential component in delivering quality care to patients and a major contributor to clinical integration, an initiative also tied to ARRA provisions.2 Clinical integration is a process of continually aligning patient care across the health care continuum that aims to improve care quality, improve access to care, and control or reduce costs. For clinical integration to work effectively, all information systems used to deliver that care must have interoperability.
1 http://s3.amazonaws.com/rdcms-himss/files/production/public/FileDownloads/HIMSS%20 Interoperability%20Definition%20FINAL.pdf