The game of Telephone is great fun for children but a terrible way to communicate vital health information. Yet in today’s healthcare systems, the multiple fragmented systems can lead to a Telephone-like mishmash of incomplete information. These systems are supposed to work together along the entire continuum of patient care, sharing data accurately and fully among multiple care providers.

This is healthcare interoperability in a nutshell. If it doesn’t happen, the quality of patient care suffers. Clearly, healthcare IT systems need to improve their ability to exchange, process and interpret shared data between many devices, applications and other systems. Further, the data needs to arrive in usable formats that healthcare providers can understand in order to improve patient care and healthcare productivity.

(Originally appeared in Becker’s Health IT & CIO Report)

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