The healthcare industry combines both evolutions in technology and lags in the data processing. In the age of devices development enhancing accessible information communication in real-time, the inability to exchange data within the health care ecosystem due to differences in data recording standards is a significant barrier to accelerating the development of medical technologies. To overcome this technological gap, in 2009, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) was adopted, within which $564 million was allocated to ONC for health information technology development (Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, 2019). The benefits of interoperability in the medical ecosphere cannot be overestimated. With an ever-expanding range of services offered to patients, sharing data across departments in a hospital or healthcare facility is paramount to effectively delivering quality care.
The fundamental of data exchange is the electronic health record systems adoption. InterSystems, a global informational corporation that develops I.T. platforms for healthcare, business, and government organizations, has been selected as a technology partner of eHealth Exchange, the largest nationwide medical information network in the United States (InterSystems Corporation, 2020). With eHealth Exchange, federal agencies, 75% of U.S. hospitals, and tens of thousands of clinics share patients for the sake of patient care improvement and coordination (Pylypchuk et al., 2020). Moreover, according to the ONC report, in 2018, 15% of all the facilities used electronic care records only (Pylypchuk et al., 2020, 5). To add, the eHealth Exchange supports public health and service quality reports, disability assignments, and insurance decisions. Thus, the digitalization rates are increasing slowly, owing to the national program. These solutions open up new opportunities, including countrywide data exchange, push notifications, HL7 Discrete Data Level Requests (FHIR), Prescription Drug Disposition Monitoring (PDMP) programs, and more. Therefore, the HIE Cooperative Agreement Program accelerates the speeds of technological advancement in general.
U.S. healthcare system is currently facing the challenge of coronavirus disease (Covid-19). Lenert & McSwain (2020) foreshow the benefits of HIE in dealing with pandemics. For example, patients may obtain screening first at one of the telehealth organizations or make tests at sites operated by a second facility or at one of several clinical laboratories with new testing capabilities (Lenert & McSwain, 2020). The next step is primary health care in different facilities and hospitalization in organizations of sufficient capacity, not necessarily associated with any previous providers due to standardized information exchange. Nevertheless, the scholars admit that many improvements were to be made so that the program would function to its fullest.
To conclude, the Health Information Exchange (HIE) Cooperative Agreement Program contributed to the Electronic Health Records (EHR) development. EHR system is a valuable tool for improving health care efficiency as it facilitates patients’ and doctors’ communication. EHR enables interoperability, which implies access to patient records, quick exchange, and the use of essential information among the facilities and practitioners. Therefore, the program is supposed to increase healthcare quality, as professionals do not spend time on paper records or information requests from pharmacies or other organizations. Moreover, it saves the patient money as repeated laboratory testing is no longer necessary. As a result, medical errors are minimized, and more patients are satisfied with the quality of care.
InterSystems Corporation. (2020). HealthShare – A Unified Care Record. InterSystems. Web.
Lenert, L., & McSwain, B. Y. (2020). Balancing health privacy, health information exchange, and research in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 27(6), 963-966. Web.
Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). (2019). State Health Information Exchange. Healthit. Web.
Pylypchuk, Y., Johnson, C., & Patel, V. (2020). State of Interoperability among U.S. non-federal acute care hospitals in 2018. ONC. Web.