Whether you currently use an electronic health record (EHR) system, or are considering adopting one for the first time, you’ve heard about interoperability. This refers to the ability of different computer systems or software to exchange and use data.
For many years, U.S. healthcare has been divided into numerous “silos,” where different providers and health systems have their own collections of patient health data. Because different providers or organizations do not all use the same EHR, they may not be able to exchange data effectively.
However, changes in regulations and patient demand have encouraged greater collaboration among providers, which requires the sharing of patient health data. To share that health data in a meaningful way, interoperability between different software solutions is a necessity.
FHIR Offers Hope for Interoperability
Among the possible standards for interoperability, the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR, pronounced “fire”) is becoming a standout option. FHIR is meant to allow data access much like how URLs are used to access web pages. FHIR tags different health data elements, or “resources,” with a unique identifier, similar to a URL. Developers use this to build standardized applications that allow data access, no matter what EHR is used.
The programming that different EHRs currently use are proprietary, meaning they have exclusive ownership and may not speak the same “language” as other EHRs. With FHIR, however, health tech developers can create specific applications that can be added to any core EHR. This creates enormous potential for innovation.
Provider Empowerment Through FHIR
For example, with an EHR that supports FHIR, an addiction treatment provider could add a FHIR-based app that provides progress monitoring for their clients. This could not only help improve client outcomes, but make the EHR itself more useful for the provider.
FHIR can also empower behavioral health providers to participate in more collaborative care models. Under these models, primary care providers are looking to collaborate with behavioral health providers within their own health systems as well as partnered behavioral health facilities in their communities. FHIR can encourage the effortless data exchange that such collaboration requires.
Interoperability Empowers Clients and Patients
Thanks to advanced technology, behavioral health clients and patients have more choices than ever in their healthcare. With this increasing choice, they are learning that successful healthcare often requires them to advocate for themselves. This often means having control over their own health data.
If a patient interacts with several types of providers or health systems, then they must be able to communicate with each one. For example, a primary care provider may refer an individual to a behavioral health provider. If these health providers can share data and effectively communicate with each other and their client, it’s easier to keep the client “in the loop” and make his or her experience less frustrating and more empowering.
Your behavioral health or addiction treatment practice can achieve greater interoperability, and all the accompanying benefits, with an EHR system that meets current standards like FHIR. BestNotes offers EHR and CRM solutions with features that help you collaborate and exchange information with those who need it. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a demo!