EMR Interoperability refers to the nature by which electronic medical record computer systems
(also known as electronic health record systems - EHR) integrate with other computer systems.
Often such interoperability is called an interface.
While the layperson often thinks such computer systems are 'supposed to talk', in actuality, there must be
adoption of a shared paradigm and technology by the creators of both systems for them to be
able to interoperate. It represents a sizable cost to software vendors and
so there is wide variance in the interoperability capabilities of current EMR products in the marketplace.
While government incentive programs like Meaningful Use have explicit rules to promote interoperability
this industry is still in its early stages of electronic integration.
There are three primary technologies used for interoperability in healthcare computer systems:
- XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a generic, text-based meta language for the exchange of any kind of information
so long as the sender and receiver agree on the schema to be used. From the software vendor standpoint,
XML is used in many industries, and has free tools available.
Electronic reporting to CMS of Clinical Quality Meausures (CQM)
in Meaningful Use Stage 2 will be done using XML format.
- HL7 (Health Level 7) is a text-based healthcare data format that can be used in files or network messages. Basically
HL7 designates where specific items of medical data are supposed to be stored.
Because it is healthcare-specific and pre-dates the rise of XML services, HL7 is used for the vast majority of
healthcare data exchange today. HL7 standards are developed by the Health Level Seven International organization.
- DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) is a binary data format for the storage and transmission of digital images and used by
most healthcare imaging systems (commonly called PACS for picture archiving and communication system).
Practical Help with Interoperability
Medical Incentive Technologies LLC understands these interoperability technologies
as well as the organizational culture and security issues involved in their practical use.
Typically we assist medical practices with implementing these technologies in the following applications: