Interoperability As A Service

Most of today’s medical data lacks movement intrinsic to its utility: housed in segregated databases and proprietary software, the data are difficult to exchange, analyze and act upon. This lack of innovation convergence slows down medical progress, as technologies that rely on these data points, such as big data artificial intelligence or mobile applications, cannot be used to their full potential.

Interoperability is a prerequisite for the digital innovations envisioned for improved medical care. With the technical friction between provider, payer organizations and third-party innovation, HHS came forward amid industry pressures and recognized the need for greater price transparency and patient servitude. This resulted in three technical standards in the ONC’s 21st Century Cures Act final rule for payers and developers to use and one content and vocabulary standard: FHIR, SMART IG/OAuth 2.0, OpenID Connect and USCDI, respectively. Organizations have realized patient and member experiences will set them apart as perhaps the last frontier of product differentiation in the market.

Interoperability can be broadly defined as “the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged.” Most definitions further distinguish between different components, layers, or levels of interoperability. Although these components can slightly differ across definitions, they generally follow a distinction between lower-level technical components and higher-level organizational components. In line with this conceptualization, this section gives a brief overview of technical, syntactic, semantic, and organizational aspects of interoperability.

Digital medicine depends on interoperable and standardized data. Interoperable health data can help to realize the full potential of AI and big data, improve the communication of medical information, make medical research more efficient, and foster international cooperation. As interoperability requires the collaborative efforts of healthcare professionals, researchers, pharma, IT experts, data engineers and politicians, interoperability must be a prominent topic in medicine and healthcare.

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