The health care industry has been adopting new technologies around patient data for over 10 years now. Digitized patient medical records, known as electronic health records (EHR), contain comprehensive patient information including diagnoses, treatments, medications, immunizations and potentially life-threatening allergies. However, what happens when you see a new specialist, need emergency care, or engage with a different provider (for example, while on vacation)? You start over with your medical history leading to potentially negative health outcomes.
Interoperability is the capacity to share patient information across electronic health records, networks and ultimately across the nation. When medical service providers have the ability to share patient data with one another, they are able to put together comprehensive medical histories and have insight into treatments being administered by multiple providers. This exchange of patient information ensures better care coordination, reduction of duplicate administered services and tests, as well as flagging potentially life-threatening interactions between medications. The end result contributes to better health outcomes for the patient and lower costs overall.
The New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), an NJIT corporation, has been working towards the ultimate goal of interoperability for nearly a decade. Beginning with assisting providers in understanding and adopting electronic health records, it has since evolved in helping them learn how the data from their EHR can be used to improve patient care. Part of this evolution is understanding the value of connecting with local networks so information can be shared with providers at other practices and hospitals. By working closely on these initiatives with NJII, providers are beginning to understand the ever-changing landscape and opportunities of data driven health care by utilizing NJII’s technology solutions to gather and report quality information to required federal programs.
In January, NJII had the opportunity to testify to the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee regarding the state of interoperability throughout New Jersey. This included an emphasis on the NJ Health Information Network (NJHIN), which NJII manages on behalf of the state, and how it is a key solution to linking all disparate systems and providers when it comes to the exchange of patient data. Department of Health Commissioner, Dr. Shereef Elnahal, added how interoperability across health care systems is fundamental to the improvement of patient outcomes. As a result of these efforts, 62 of New Jersey’s 72 hospitals are now connected through the NJHIN. Further, the NJHIN also serves as a pillar in Governor Murphy’s vision for an innovation economy.
While the National Coordinator for HIT, Donald Rucker, MD, graded the nation as a whole with a C- for interoperability, NJII has helped New Jersey to excel in it. NJII is excited to further develop its leadership role in the evolution of health care, and is confident that the state of New Jersey will continue in its successful progression and careful planning to achieve and maintain a high mark in interoperability for its population.