6 ways interoperability can benefit you in the rapidly changing homecare market
by Robert Boeye

Today’s providers know firsthand the challenges of running a business in a volatile market, and the importance of finding new ways to be competitive, relevant and, ultimately, survive in these challenging times.

The key to longevity for providers is interoperability. Simply put, interoperability is the extent to which systems can seamlessly exchange data, interpret and act on that shared data. In the health care industry, this means being able to share electronic information between referral sources, payers, manufacturers, distributors and others in order to improve efficiencies and deliver better outcomes in patient care.

Below are six important ways that interoperability can work for you.

  • Streamline operations—The automatic flow of important data among all parties can save time and money and enhance operational efficiency. Removing manual processes from the equation allows providers to have confidence in the accuracy of the documentation being submitted and received, the quality of patient care and the outcomes transmittal back to the referral source and beyond.
  • Increase in reimbursements—Interoperability helps providers across the health care continuum have visibility into a patient’s records, treatments and outcomes. This increased, consistent visibility can facilitate better patient care, in addition to more complete and accurate documentation. The more thorough the documentation submitted to payers is, the greater the chance of an approved claim and full reimbursement.
  • Increase referrals—Referral sources are moving toward transmitting electronic referrals through their EHR systems. The benefits for the provider are realized when the provider can receive referrals and related documentation electronically into their own system. Providers that develop strong relationships with physicians through interoperable electronic platforms can significantly increase sales and market share, ensuring future business prosperity.
  • Stay relevant—Eventually, referral sources will have a choice to make. Do they send their referrals to the provider who uses paper forms and outdated technology, or do they send their referrals to the provider who is able to bi-directionally share data—automatically and accurately? The choice will not be hard to make. Interoperability is already impacting the future of health care, and providers who embrace it will be in a better position to compete and serve their patients and referral sources.
  • Strengthen referral relationships—Traditional referral relationship-building methods can be labor-intensive, such as having staff make countless phone calls or in-person visits. The use of electronic collaboration does much more to keep providers locked in with referral sources. As physicians are increasingly expected to communicate electronically and bi-directionally, post-acute care providers will be expected to do the same. By becoming interoperable, a provider will be viewed more as a partner and less as a commodity.
  • Facilitates better patient care—Having the ability to communicate with other health care providers that have, are or will care for the same patient creates a seamless line of communication that helps ensure all parties are fully up to speed on the patient’s care plan, facilitating a better experience for both patient and provider.

As important as interoperability will become to your business during the next few years, it is paramount that you select a technology partner who can deliver a robust software and communications architecture today. Your technology partner is only as strong as the connections it offers to your referral sources, payers, manufacturers, distributors and others so that you are connected where you need to be in order to share data seamlessly across your business’s care continuum.

Embracing interoperability is imperative to the future of your business. As a provider, you need to have a clear understanding of how your business fits into the dynamic health care ecosystem, and you must use a strong technology platform to succeed in this new interconnected world. Those who continue to operate in business-as-usual mode run the risk of being left behind.