Embracing the Era of Interoperability

When the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2009 it was clear that our nation was about to enter a new era of health care, an era characterized by one very big word… interoperability.

Embracing Interoperability user on computer

For such a large word, the concept of interoperability is rather simple. It is the ability to make health systems work together to share patient information. The benefit to patients is that their information will be consistently available when and where they need it. Ultimately, interoperability will result in compatible records systems that talk to one another, allowing health systems, clinicians, practitioners and patients from any location to share information. National interoperability is the ultimate goal, but there are many steps on the path to full and sustainable interoperability.

The Patient Portal

Patients will benefit the most from interoperability, and many patients in the Gulf Coast area are already doing so by using patient portals to access their medical records, request appointments and refill prescriptions. Baptist Health Care physician groups, Cardiology Consultants and Baptist Medical Group, both provide patients access to a patient portal. Patients have convenient access to their health information right at their fingertips at any time and from any place.

"The HIE has improved quality and reduced costs for countless hospital admissions. I have instant access to the most recent hospital records which informs my differential diagnosis and eliminates redundant testing", said John R. Sullivan, M.D.

Intersystem Information Sharing

Thanks to interoperability many hospitals and providers can share information seamlessly if they’re in the same health system. For example, Baptist Hospital can upload its medical records into the Baptist Medical Group or Cardiology Consultants records kept within the patient portal. This technology allows clinicians to quickly access all the information they need to treat a patient.

Health Information Exchange

Eventually, all providers and hospitals in the Pensacola area will share their health information on the Health Information Exchange (HIE), the local repository of medical records maintained by the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce. This means that if a patient transfers to a new provider, or changes hospitals, there will be no delay in obtaining medical records and no gap in care. Physicians and clinical staff at Baptist take full advantage of this technology and are eager for others to participate.