Interoperability is one of the most discussed topics in healthcare today. The term typically refers to the architecture or standards that make it possible for diverse electronic health record (EHR) systems to work compatibly. Interoperability is, on the one hand, a technical process and a centerpiece of Stage 2 Meaningful Use (MU) incentive funding. However, when the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) placed improved interoperability front and center in its three-year-agenda this year, it stated its goals are to go beyond physical exchange of data to enable better workflows and reduced ambiguity by providers obtaining and sharing the right information in the right context.
Interoperability between disparate electronic systems plays an important role in breaking down information silos. When effective and meaningful data exchange occurs, the results are improved efficiency, quality, safety and cost of consumer care.