Interoperability is defined as the extent to
which systems and devices can exchange data, and interpret that shared data. One
of the goals in using health information technology is to provide comprehensive
information on patients at the point of care, as well as integrating information
across different sources and sites, so that the provider can evaluate the most
appropriate options for patients based on the effectiveness of treatments,
including factors such as quality, risk, benefit and costs.
Currently the promulgation of common data messaging standards and
clinical vocabularies have increased interoperability, but they are not as
effective as they could be for the seamless exchange and use of data to derive
the maximum benefits of health IT. For two systems to be
interoperable, they must be able to exchange data and subsequently present that
data such that it can be understood by a user.
Over the last few years, there has been an
increased awareness by both private and public sectors of the ability to improve
the quality and safety of healthcare with interoperable health information
technology (HIT) systems. These technologies include electronic
health records, personal health records, health information exchanges, and
medical devices. As healthcare systems are increasing in their
adoption of health IT, a growing amount of data are being gathered.
In order for the healthcare industry to move towards better care
management for patients, preventative care and population health management,
there is need for usable clinical information to flow freely across networks and
between hospitals and physicians. For this reason, healthcare
organizations need interoperability, an efficient and secure means for hospital
computer-based systems and applications to communicate and exchange patient
data. However, true interoperability is a significant challenge to
healthcare organizations for a number of reasons: lack of a common, standard
framework that reconciles the differences in data as well as the varying data
types; difficulties in product and system compatibility with existing
infrastructures within hospitals; and consistent and persistent struggles
internally to disclose the appropriate data within a hospital and with partners
in their community. The result is health data that cannot be
effectively used across the facility or system levels and that disrupts
continuity of care at the patient level.
National Quality Forum (NQF) will conduct a multistakeholder review
of the current issues and barriers to interoperability and identify a set of proposed measure concepts around interoperability. A conceptual framework
will be created to analyze, prioritize, and make recommendations for those
concepts to be developed into performance measures.
Over a 12-month period of performance, NQF
will complete an environmental scan and key informant interviews; and convene an
expert, multistakeholder panel to provide input and help guide the creation of a
framework to organize the information in a logical and efficient manner.
Throughout this project, NQF will solicit input from NQF’s multistakeholder
audience, including NQF membership and public stakeholders at key points
throughout the project. NQF will produce a final report, which will include core
principles and guidance on how to fill current gaps in measurement of
interoperability as well as recommendations for future opportunities for work in
the interoperability field.
This project is funded by the Department of
Health and Human Services.
For information about the availability of
auxiliary aids and services for NQF’s federally funded projects, please
For more information, please contact Poonam
Bal at 202-783-1300 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.