Interoperability has been a topic of much discussion in healthcare. Many believe it is the missing ingredient for controlling the cost of care while improving quality. The ability to share a patient’s medical history and test results has a direct impact on reducing redundant and duplicate tests, while ensuring timely access to historical information, particular in the emergency department (ED) or outpatient centers. However, challenges do remain: IT systems not adhering to a common standard, liability around trusting data from different sources and - above all - a willingness to share information.

Dell at HIMSS13The Interoperability Showcase at HIMSS 2013 demonstrated this week in New Orleans the enormous possibilities of standards-based data exchange in healthcare. More than 115 vendors showed how patient health information can be exchanged between multiple providers and communities using the Integrating the Health Enterprise (IHE) common framework.

Dell remains committed to open standards and the IHE industry framework. At the HIMSS 2013 Interoperability Showcase, Dell demonstrated the standards-based architecture and integration capabilities of the Dell Cloud Clinical Archive (DCCA) – a vendor-neutral hybrid cloud for medical imaging – as a part of the use case around transition of care. DCCA is a part of Dell’s Unified Clinical Archive (UCA) portfolio of solutions to address challenges around the growth of imaging data in healthcare.

The scenario illustrates the use of Health Information Exchange (HIE) to share a patient’s medical history including images, test results and device readings across providers in multiple communities. It also demonstrates how images should be integrated within a patient’s medical record, promoting compliance to one of the optional criteria under Meaningful Use Stage 2.

Continuing the focus on interoperability, HIMSS 2013 also saw leading EHR vendors announce a new CommonWell Alliance. This is a non-profit collaboration by Cerner, McKesson, Allscripts, Athenahealth, Greenway and RelayHealth to enable interoperability and seamless transfer of electronic patient data between their EHR systems. The question remains on how extensively this will be adopted, particularly by the other leading vendors in the market, and what should be the role of the government in driving compliance with these standards.