hospitals providers must start paying attention to interoperability

While medicine has always been at the forefront of technological advancements, there has recently been one striking exception: the area of electronic medical records.

Indeed, while we are accustomed to seeing neatly organized, easily updatable and comprehensive digital records for everything from our credit card history and bank statements to our car service records and health insurance data, this hasn’t necessarily proven to be the case as far as medical records are concerned.

One of the major problems with electronic medical records, say experts, is the lack of interoperability in health IT systems, meaning the different software applications and technology platforms used are incompatible, such that they often can’t exchange data or effectively manage the information exchanged.

As you might imagine, this lack of IT integration can not only create something of an administrative headache for medical professionals — doctors and nurses may be required to manually input important information that didn’t or can’t be transmitted via the systems in place — but also elevates the risk of serious medical errors.

For example, the lack of interoperability could result in everything from a misdiagnosis attributable to a lack of information in an electronic medical record, or a prescription error resulting from a simple typo that would not have otherwise occurred if all devices had been linked.

Consider also that a recent survey of nurses by the nonprofit group West Health Institute revealed that roughly 50 percent had witnessed some sort of medical error they attributed to the lack of interoperability, while 74 percent indicated that coordinating data from a variety of devices was frequently difficult.

Given the increasing movement of hospitals and providers toward electronic medical records and the desire by some tech companies to start incorporating more user friendly devices like smartphones, tablet computers and even smartwatches into the area of medical records, it’s imperative that the issue of interoperability is addressed.

Providers and, more importantly, patients must have complete confidence that there is a definitive medical record listing all of the necessary information that is accessible across all devices and IT platforms, and capable of being universally updated in real-time.

If you or a loved one have been victimized by medical malpractice that you believe was directly attributable to some of the issues we’ve discussed above, please visit our website to learn more about how we can help and the options available to you.

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