EHR Interoperability - The Key Ingredient For Coordinated Patient Care

  • Published: February 29, 2024



The rise of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) in the US healthcare industry was like that of a juggernaut – it took a while to gain momentum from the 80s, when researchers brought up the concept of EHRs. It picked up pace by the 2000s, and by 2015, close to 96% of American hospitals had adopted EHRs as part of their health tech. However, the matter of interoperability soon came to the fore. Care providers and infrastructure architects did not prioritize patient care coordination, where a patient could visit any provider around the country and easily access their health records. Back then, EHRs were primarily adopted to help with recording and security of the medical data, and each provider arbitrarily selected formats that were incompatible with most of the other providers in the country. Thus, the term ‘data silos’ entered healthcare.


Today, the revenue generated in the global healthcare interoperability solutions market is estimated to rise up to USD 6.2 billion by 2027 at a projected CAGR of 12.9%. This is a sign of how important this issue has become as healthcare moves towards a coordinated patient care model. Let’s take a closer look at how data silos can be problematic for the healthcare industry:


  • Inconsistent data and lack of standardized data structure: One of the biggest challenges to achieving interoperability is the lack of standardized data formats and communication protocols. Despite the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act’s goal to achieve interoperability and patient care coordination across all settings of care, only 6% of health care providers in 2015 reported that they could share patient data with other clinicians who use an EHR system different from their own.
  • Patient privacy and security: Protecting patient data from unauthorized access and breaches is crucial due to strict regulations like HIPAA. The medical system has always been a tantalizing target for hackers, with access to personal information of patients and employees, including health records. The need for cybersecurity resilience made patient coordination take a back seat in the data infrastructure. However, clinics these days can exchange health records and medical information through secure healthcare APIs, but only if they follow the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard. 
  • Diverse data models: There are just as many different data models, structures, and coding systems as there are incompatible EHR formats being used by providers across the country. This makes it challenging for clinical care providers to seamlessly integrate and interpret information across different platforms.
  • Cost implications: Trying to update or overhaul your EHR system will definitely be an expensive decision, and one that cannot be taken lightly. There are a lot of uncertainties involved in the transition, which includes the risk of data breaches and the cost of training staff in the new process.
  • Regulatory compliance: This has been another major force to contend with while considering EHR interoperability. Regulations like HIPAA are necessary in order to keep patient data secure and private. Often, providers opt out of pursuing clinical care coordination because it can get tricky to balance it with the existing regulatory framework. 


First steps towards EHR interoperability

True interoperability is still a distant dream while security and compliance take priority. That being said, there are steps a provider can take in order to improve their EHR interoperability significantly:


  1. Cloud-based EHRs

Cloud-based EHR systems prioritize interoperability, as they can be integrated into different wings of a care facility that can then work together to provide seamless patient care coordination. Cloud-based systems ensure that the data is secure from cyber attacks and data loss as they typically have high-level security features and servers in multiple locations around the world storing the data.


  1. Use Open Application Programming Interfaces (API)

The most common approach for achieving interoperability is using open Application Programming Interfaces or APIs. APIs enable easy sharing of data and protected health information (PHI) between EHRs and health information technology systems, which helps improve clinical care coordination.


  1. Blockchain for Network Provider Identification (NPID)

The blockchain’s tamper-proof design could be a solution to improve EHR interoperability. This ensures that the patient’s medical records remain secure in the provider’s private blockchain network. It also provides unique security features like creating an audit trail to minimize the risk of data loss.


  1. Data standards adoption:

The healthcare industry is still fragmented in how different providers view adopting standardized formats such as FHIR. It is critical that providers unite and ensure there is a common language for data exchange. Developing middleware solutions that can translate and map data between independent systems is crucial for effective clinical care coordination. Customizable interfaces and interoperability layers can translate data into a standardized format that all systems can understand.


  1. Governance frameworks:

Establishing a governance framework that monitors interoperability measures while ensuring the data quality, compliance and security is crucial for any provider system in the long run. This framework will help ensure that nothing is compromised in the pursuit of a more efficient form of patient care coordination.



Data silos are rapidly becoming a thing of the past as we move towards the new standards of FHIR Release 5. With the rise of AI-assisted decision support systems and security, EHR interoperability and data exchanges may be entering a golden age, which would also transform coordinated patient care for the better. Providers around the country must make sure to invest in flexible, scalable and secure data infrastructure to ensure they can keep up with the times.


About us:

Reveal HealthTech provides specialized engineering, clinical model, and strategy support to healthcare organizations. With extensive expertise in developing EHRs, we work with facilities to create easy-to-integrate, scalable and modernized EHR solutions.