In a previous BestNotes blog post, we provided an overview of interoperability, what it looks like, and its history. But why does it matter specifically to behavioral health providers and those working in addiction treatment?
Interoperability in Practice
Because it facilitates communication, interoperability can benefit patients, providers, and payers in a variety of ways:
Improved care: Data sharing among providers is an important benefit of interoperability. As both providers and payers focus more on value-based care, which emphasizes improved patient outcomes, clinicians need a picture of a patient’s entire health. This often requires a patient’s different clinicians to be in contact with each other.
Increased efficiency: When information can be shared quickly and consistently, clinicians can make better decisions, faster. This can help them better focus on patient needs, improving outcomes. Better data sharing also puts less of a burden on patients to convey information from one provider to another, or between the provider and payer.
Lowered costs: Greater efficiency in data sharing can lower costs by reducing the risk of errors in billing or patient records, which also helps save staff members’ time. By improving care, interoperability can lower healthcare costs by reducing the risk of diagnosis or treatment errors, or removing the need for unnecessary testing.
More providers and payers recognize the value of data sharing, and electronic health record (EHR) technology is becoming more widely implemented. This will make interoperability an increasingly important issue for behavioral health and addiction treatment providers to address.
Clinical implementation aside, there are numerous regulatory changes that have made (or will make) interoperability an unavoidable issue in healthcare.
As policymakers and regulators promote not only EHR use but interoperability, new laws and standards may extend to behavioral health. Here are a few things behavioral health providers may want to keep an eye on:
Launching Interoperability Under HITECH Act
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, was intended to promote meaningful use of health information technology. This law legislatively mandated the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), which is intended to support the adoption of health IT and promote interoperability.
Medicare’s MyHealthEData Initiative Would Encourage Interoperability
In February 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed new rules to support interoperability in electronic health information (EHI). These proposals are intended to increase choice, competition, and innovation in health information. Under the rule, patients would be given electronic access to their EHI at no cost.
Does your EHR promote interoperability?
As interoperability becomes more prominent, behavioral health providers should make it a goal when choosing and integrating their EHR system.
BestNotes offers EHR and CRM solutions tailored specifically for behavioral health and addiction treatment providers, with features that help you collaborate and exchange information with those who need it. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a demo.