One of the greatest challenges healthcare organizations face today is clinical application interoperability – the communication between computer systems, applications, or software to allow them to work in conjunction with one another.
We asked Robbie Morris with TekLinks’ Cybersecurity Consulting Group to shed some light on the difficulties facing clinical interoperability. Robbie is the Vice President of Healthcare and Security Solutions.
What is clinical interoperability and why is it important?
Clinical interoperability is the ability for different apps and programs to work with one another. It can be a real problem when two doctor’s offices regularly refer patients to each other, but their EMRs (Electronic Medical Records) are not integrated.
Consider this process between two medical associates:
Seems like a simple solution for sharing patient information, right? The problem is that this patient data is now in a minimum of two unprotected and unregulated places – the employee’s computer and the sent mailbox folder. Once the info lands in the lab employee’s mailbox, this HIPAA-protected data now also lives in the lab employee’s inbox and the location where he saves it to his computer. Exchanging PHI like this increases the risk of mismanagement and leaves the doctor’s office AND laboratory open to HIPAA violations, resulting in the potential for steep fines, loss of reputation, and much more. This is just one of the many problems that could arise when interoperability isn’t a priority.
In today’s technology-connected world, security threats are persistent and for most any company, it’s only a matter of time before a security incident happens. Work-arounds like the one mentioned above are an unnecessary risk in exchanging vital patient information.
What can your practice do?
If you’re concerned with the costs of these efforts, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is a logical way to look at clinical application and integration. You can negotiate with the business associate(s) that you are sharing information with to potentially pay for your Electronic Medical Records (EMR) interfaces. You can also discuss interface costs with software companies, laboratory companies and any business associates you work with who would benefit from lowering the security risk of unauthorized patient record access.
No matter what solution you choose, clinical interoperability is the key to ensuring your patient data is secure. Not only will your patients thank you, but you’ll be lowering your risks for violation and fines.
To learn more from Robbie, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
WHO IS TEKLINKS? A national leader in cloud computing, managed services, engineering services, and value-added resale. We’re a team of expert techies and business professionals who are passionate about building valuable relationships and getting things done right. Simply put: We make IT work for business.
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