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Use of electronic health records (EHRs) by providers has increased dramatically in a few short years, but true interoperability – the ability to easily share data electronically between systems – has remained elusive.
Lack of standards and disparate vendor platforms are among the main reasons typically cited for healthcare interoperability’s slow progress. However, InstaMed Chief Technology Officer Chris Seib argues that another major barrier to interoperability is overlooked.
“The root problem is that for too long organizations have only been focusing on the clinical side of healthcare,” Seib writes in the American Journal of Managed Care. “It is time to go beyond the clinical side of healthcare and focus now on the administrative side to achieve interoperability.”
Indeed, many physicians and other healthcare professionals complain that poorly designed systems disrupt workflow and waste time, both of which impede interoperability efforts. Seib notes that a McKinsey study concluded that 16 percent of total healthcare spending is on administrative costs.
“The true costs of administrative inefficiency are hard to realize at a micro-level,” Seib says. “For example, staff may switch between one or more screens to complete a single payment transaction. A few extra clicks for one transaction might not seem like a time-consuming process when evaluating one employee’s workflow. But when you look at it from a macro-level, the true cost becomes apparent.”
Seib concludes that when “healthcare organizations focus on streamlining administrative processes and workflows, the industry not only has the opportunity to expedite gains in interoperability, but it also can find significant cost savings and productivity gains.”