EHR Interoperability: Bridging the Gap Between your Custom EHR System & Existing Healthcare Infrastructure

META-2-1-1024x538 EHR Interoperability: Bridging the Gap Between your Custom EHR System & Existing Healthcare Infrastructure

The healthcare sector is fast adopting technological advancements to improve its healthcare infrastructure and build a well-connected ecosystem for sustainability and scalability. Electronic Health Records are the critical transistors in this transition process and one of the most sought-after solutions for healthcare data exchange best practices.

However, despite its lucrative benefits for improving healthcare delivery, there are still some debates among physicians that EHRs might not have necessarily improved the diagnosis process. To back this up, HIT Consultant’s survey showed that 60% of healthcare physicians agreed with this.

On the contrary, the high adoption rate and change in the very nature of healthcare delivery have clearly changed the way healthcare functions. Furthermore, EHRs have a unique ability to exchange, extract, share, and receive data from another healthcare system. Enabling this across the healthcare industry would drastically reduce the time to care delivery and completely change the healthcare system from being reactive to proactive.

However, EHR interoperability for custom systems is as complicated as the healthcare system itself. In simple terms there are some major challenges that obstruct the data interoperability solutions to be successfully implemented.

But why is EHR interoperability in healthcare so important?

Well, let this blog be your complete guide to EHR interoperability in healthcare and know everything there is to know about it.

Why is EHR Interoperability Important?

In a nutshell, EHR interoperability for custom systems is the ability of the system to exchange and communicate with disparate systems and make use of that data.

Being such an important part of the digital healthcare system, it helps in streamlining many aspects of the digital healthcare system. Let’s have a look at them in brief and how it enhances the healthcare system.

  • Improved Patient Coordination: Being the center of the healthcare system’s digital ecosystem, it enables the sharing of important patient details with the care team and patients. For instance, if a care manager needs to access the patient’s complete medical history, medications, and allergies to curate a care plan, then with an interoperable EHR system, they can almost instantly access it. This reduces the overall time to care delivery and enhances the care journey of the patient with effective communication.
  • Enhanced Data Analysis & PHM: EHR interoperability implementation drives important patient data into your system, enabling you to instill data-backed practices into your healthcare practices. Custom EHR interoperable solutions automatically aggregate the collected data and present it in a format that is easy for the provider to understand. This provides better insights about the patient to the provider, and along with that, the vast amount of data collected from the patient population can also contribute to starting population health management initiatives.
  • Reduced Errors & Redundancies: One of the major advantages of EHR interoperability for patient care coordination is that it streamlines the data flow in your healthcare system and completely eliminates the manual data entry process. This not only helps in better management of data but also the chances of multiple tests and entries.
  • Increased Efficiency & Cost Savings: Healthcare data exchange best practices in the digital healthcare landscape include interoperable EHR as it optimizes workflows and reduces administrative burden. This enhances the productivity of your healthcare staff and provides good returns on the implementation cost of EHR interoperability solutions.

Challenges of Achieving Interoperability for Custom Systems

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Custom EHR, system integration challenges, can disrupt the clinical workflow of healthcare delivery to your patients. Though most of the challenges arise because of the adoption of different custom EHR solutions, following healthcare data standards for interoperability can help you overcome those easily.

Here are some of the other challenges that can make it difficult for you to achieve EHR interoperability for custom systems:

  • Diverse Data Standards & Formats: There are many systems in the vast and wide healthcare landscape across the world. To make it more complicated, every system has adopted different data standards and formats for their convenience. This makes it hard for any standard EHR system to exchange healthcare data and make proper use of it. However, this challenge can be easily overcome by following standard data formats like HL7, FHIR, and other standardized coding structures.
  • Limited Vendor Support for Interoperability: Oftentimes, healthcare organizations that are building custom EHR software are offered minimal support from the vendor to make the system genuinely interoperable. In such cases, you might have to hire a third-party vendor to achieve EHR interoperability for custom systems.
  • Security & Privacy Concerns: You need to understand that the digital healthcare industry is prone to cyber threats and crimes. Especially when you implement data interoperability solutions, which puts your data at high risk. To overcome this, taking enough security measures and complying with the HIPAA regulations can not only help you safeguard your data but also navigate through the legal landscape of digital healthcare.
  • High Cost & Resources: The cost of EHR interoperability solutions is typically higher than that of any other system. This is because of the complex nature of the industry and the technologies used by different systems across the industry. Furthermore, implementing interoperability solutions can also be resource-intensive, further adding up the cost. Having a precise estimation and understanding of the budget can help you find the ideal solution to achieve EHR interoperability for custom systems.
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Strategies for Successful Interoperability Implementation

The credibility of modern-day healthcare largely depends on the smooth exchange of data between different healthcare service providers. To achieve EHR interoperability for custom systems here are some of the strategies and best practices for healthcare data exchange to enhance care delivery.

  • Adopt Data Standards: The recommended healthcare data exchange best practice is to use widely accepted data standards and formats like HL7 and FHIR for seamless data exchange between disparate healthcare systems. It not only allows a complete exchange of information accurately but also enhances the ability of your system to interpret your data in a way that can help you make use of it for care delivery.
  • Leverage Integration Tools: Another widespread practice in the healthcare industry to make their custom systems interoperable is to leverage the power of integration tools to its maximum. This means that you need to use APIs to allow computer systems to communicate with each other or use data mapping tools to connect the systems with other healthcare systems so that instant information and data exchange are enabled.
  • Partner with Interoperability Vendors: When you decide to go ahead with a custom EHR solution, strategize a way to collaborate with independent vendors and partner with them to achieve interoperability. By seeking their expertise, you can not only have successful healthcare data integration but also have dedicated personnel for EHR interoperability implementation.
  • Prioritize Data Security: Safeguarding and protecting data is one of the most crucial aspects of EHR interoperability implementation. To ensure this, you need to implement robust security measures to protect sensitive patient information and use that information for the proper purposes. Some of the compliance considerations that you must adhere to include HIPAA, HITECH ACT, GDPR, etc.

Future Trends in EHR Interoperability

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Still being in the transition stage, achieving EHR interoperability for custom systems is becoming relatively easier. However, with evolving standards and technologies combining with healthcare data exchange best practices are set to bring the entire healthcare industry on the same page to seamlessly exchange data with each other.

Furthermore, emerging technologies like AI, ML, and blockchain are further set to enhance interoperability for patient care coordination. While AI and ML can streamline sensitive patient data, blockchain technology can enhance tracking and improve the security of the system.

While most of the healthcare systems are adopting EHR for the practices, in a way they are also preparing for the next phase healthcare industry which is an interconnected healthcare systems for smooth and efficient exchange of information.


In conclusion, the imperative of bridging the gap between custom Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems and existing healthcare infrastructure cannot be overstated. Interoperability stands as the linchpin for seamless data exchange, enabling efficient care delivery and safeguarding patient safety. As we navigate the complexities and challenges of interoperability, embracing standards, fostering collaboration, and investing in robust solutions will pave the way for a connected and transformative healthcare ecosystem. Together, let’s shape a future where healthcare data flows effortlessly, empowering patients and advancing medical science.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the different types of EHR interoperability?

The different types of EHR interoperability:-

  • Foundational interoperability: Basic ability of systems to exchange data.
  • Structural interoperability: Agreement on the format of exchanged data.
  • Semantic interoperability: Common understanding of the meaning of exchanged data.
  • Organizational interoperability: Agreements among organizations to support interoperability.
  • Process interoperability: Workflow integration across systems.
2. What are the security risks associated with EHR interoperability?

Security risks in EHR interoperability include data breaches, unauthorized access, identity theft, and compromised patient confidentiality due to the exchange of sensitive medical information across different systems and networks.

3. How can I ensure my custom EHR system complies with data privacy regulations?

To ensure your custom EHR system complies with data privacy regulations:-

  • Conduct a comprehensive privacy impact assessment.
  • Implement strong encryption for data at rest and in transit.
  • Establish strict access controls and user authentication mechanisms.
  • Regularly audit and monitor system access and data usage.
  • Ensure compliance with relevant regulations such as HIPAA, GDPR, or local laws.
4. What are the costs involved in implementing EHR interoperability?

Costs of implementing Electronic Health Record (EHR) interoperability include software integration expenses, staff training, data migration, compliance with standards, and potential infrastructure upgrades, often requiring significant financial investment and ongoing maintenance.

5. What are the common challenges in integrating custom EHR systems with existing healthcare infrastructure?

The common challenges in integrating custom EHR systems with existing healthcare infrastructure are as follows:-

  • Data compatibility issues
  • Interoperability with other systems
  • Security concerns and compliance with regulations (e.g., HIPAA)
  • Integration with existing workflows and processes
  • Training staff to use the new system
  • Cost and resource allocation for implementation and maintenance
6. How can industry standards like HL7 FHIR and DICOM facilitate interoperability?

HL7 FHIR and DICOM standardize healthcare data exchange, ensuring compatibility among different systems and devices. FHIR enables flexible data representation, while DICOM focuses on medical imaging, collectively promoting seamless interoperability and improved patient care.

7. What are the key considerations for selecting integration technologies for EHR interoperability?

The key considerations for selecting integration technologies for EHR interoperability are as follows:-

  • Standards compliance (e.g., HL7, FHIR)
  • Data security and privacy measures
  • Scalability to accommodate future growth
  • Compatibility with existing systems
  • Interoperability with various EHR platforms
  • Ease of implementation and maintenance
  • Support for real-time data exchange
  • Cost-effectiveness and ROI analysis.

Ganesh Varahade

Founder & CEO of Thinkitive Technologies.

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