Data standards are the agreement on the representation and formatting of data to be consistent across different systems. Interoperability is the ability for systems to communicate and exchange information to each other from anywhere and anytime;(1) on demand and in real-time; interoperability will be achieved when there are standards implemented and followed.
There are several ways to promote the implementation of systems that are complaint to standards and that are interoperable. In the beginning, a market research should be conducted in order to find out how health care providers practice and process their data on a regular basis. Then awareness campaigns, workshops should be held and brochures should be passed out to convey the message of data standards, interoperability and systems communications across health practices. There should be harmony and acceptance among providers. Reducing resistance from providers to use the systems and standard coding is the first step of successful implementation, in my opinion. Semantics and syntax must be well understood among end-users, such as HL7 and SNOMED, and there should be seamless data interchangeability between systems. The different clinical settings and practices must have common messages to communicate with each other and share information. The former could be achieved by customizing and tailoring the user interface of the systems to satisfy health care providers’ needs and accommodate their daily practice and workflow. In addition to providing optimum solutions to the end-users, it is important to have cost effective models and frameworks that are feasible to implement. Therefore, reducing the risk of developers and designers hesitance and implementation.
- Minnesota e-Health. Minnesota Department of Health. Available from: http://www.health.state.mn.us/e-health/standards/overview.html