Let's talk about HL7 and interoperability in radiology

Interoperability, the ability of different systems and software to exchange information, continues to be a huge challenge in healthcare, and radiology is no exception.

Different provider organizations may use health IT solutions that are incompatible with each other, preventing data sharing.

For example, a person from Indiana may break their leg while on a skiing vacation in Colorado. With interoperability, the emergency department in Colorado can easily share the patient’s X-rays with their primary-care provider in Indiana.

Interoperability is also gaining importance due to the shift to value-based care and its emphasis on improved patient outcomes. This requires providers to take a more holistic approach to a patient’s health, usually through increased collaboration with the patient’s whole medical team. This calls for plenty of data-sharing between different providers, which is impossible without interoperability.

Achieving interoperability with standards

One key to health data interoperability is the creation of technical standards that define the way that health data are structured and communicated. By following these standards, different proprietary software systems can easily exchange health information.

The non-profit HL7, or Health Level Seven International, is one organization that develops interoperability standards. Their Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) standard, for example, dictates how clinical documents, including medical imaging reports, can be coded and structured for easy exchange.

Interoperability standards in radiology can seem overwhelming and even exasperating to busy clinicians and healthcare executives. Fortunately, radiology leaders only need to recognize a few general ideas:

● Understand the value of interoperability itself and its potential for your practice and patients

● Look for a PACS system that prioritizes interoperability

● Ask your PACS or EHR provider for information about the interoperability standards they use

Want to learn more about HL7 and radiology?

Novarad is hosting a webinar on June 18, 2020 to dive further into HL7 and help you better understand this topic. Go here to register, or contact us with any questions or to get more information.

We’ll see you there!

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