Interoperability in healthcare refers to the ability of various healthcare information technology (HIT) systems to exchange, interpret, and use data in a consistent manner.

Since the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009, healthcare providers have been forced to transition from paper to electronic health records. ARRA outlined expectations for health information technology (HIT) to electronically exchange data, among many other industry-changing factors. This has been a significant advancement in healthcare in recent years, and it is arguably the driving force driving the industry toward interoperability today.

When paired, the various software available in the industry is developed in silos, resulting in disjointed communications. To some extent, integrations work, but the goal of interoperability is to have a holistic view of patients despite the differences in technologies used across practises, hospitals, pharmacies, and so on.

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According to a recent article published by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS):

“Regardless of the application or application vendor, data exchange schema and standards should allow data to be shared across clinicians, labs, hospitals, pharmacies, and patients.

Interoperability is defined as “the ability of health information systems to collaborate within and across organisational boundaries to advance the effective delivery of healthcare to individuals and communities.”

HIMSS continues the article by discussing the three levels of interoperability in health information technology.


The ability of one information system to exchange data with another is referred to as foundational interoperability. The main benefit of foundational interoperability is that the receiving system does not need to interpret the data it receives.


The data structure of the information being passed between systems is defined by structural interoperability, which is of medium complexity. Data can be interpreted at the individual field level thanks to this standardised message formatting. According to HIMSS, structural data is “preserved and unaltered.”


The most complex and sought-after method of exchanging healthcare data is semantic interoperability. Multiple systems can exchange data and fully utilise it in this model. This includes data exchange, interpretation, and use across multiple systems.


Image Source as an Example of Interoperability

The exchange of information in healthcare, as in all aspects of modern life, is critical to our progress. Interoperability meets that need while also improving the quality of care received, increasing healthcare efficiency, and even providing financial incentives.


The majority of patients are served by a network of clinics, independent practises, and hospitals. Individual interactions comprise their entire medical history, also known as the Continuum of Care. This history records previous symptoms, procedures, allergies, complications, and so on. Lack of access to all of those data points due to a lack of integrated healthcare IT systems is dangerous at best and extremely inconvenient at worst for the patient but when patient asked Why Is Interoperability Important In Healthcare IT then its experience. The primary benefit of interoperability is full visibility and access to patient data for both the healthcare institution and the patient.


Medical practises can drastically increase margins by treating more patients and improving the quality of care they receive by having real-time results at their fingertips. Patients will have more control over their own data, which will alleviate a significant portion of the administrative burden. Because of accurate data and insights, the remaining administrative and clinical functions will be streamlined.

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