UW Radiology

Patient Data, Technology & Interoperability

Today, I received the February 2017 issue of Radiology Today in the library mailbox; the cover story read, “An Interoperability Progress Report: Overcoming Hurdles to Sharing Patient Data.”

This immediately caught my attention because much of what I’ve been learning in school is about interoperability between information systems. Intrigued, I flipped to the story and started reading. In the article, written by Juliann Schaeffer, Marwan Baya, CEO of Secant Healthcare states, “Patients must have downstream access to their patient records… Performance -or value-based care cannot be achieved through electronic silos.” (p. 11)

G. Phillip Reger, who is a chief technology officer for the company Radiology Partners, also states “Patient data silos and imaging silos limit the ability for radiologists and other physicians to form care teams that work together to meet the needs of each individual patient, especially over time.” (p. 11)

Reading this, I was struck by the similarities between the information problems of libraries and healthcare providers.

In the library world, different forms of information are contained within  separate silos. While software companies are actively producing solutions to these problems, we are still left with several different systems. These systems may more or less do the same thing, but may or may not work together. We as librarians are often at the mercy of software developers and must take what we can get, rather than create a solution that ultimately benefits the patron. Or in the case of healthcare, the patient.

So, what can be done?

Schaeffer suggests to “set up a smoother data process flow.” (p. 13) While that’s easier said than done, there are some great bits of advice at the end of this article. For example, Michael W. Langenberg, CPA, the executive director of University Radiology based in Knoxville, Tennessee, states, “The best advice is to make sure that the radiologists have all of the information they need to provide excellent clinical service and it is delivered to them in an efficient manner. Do not be willing to compromise until this is the case.” (p. 13)

Although we may not have control over how the systems we use are designed or work with other systems, we can facilitate interoperability by working together. This is some excellent advice that librarians should heed, as well!

To read the full article in Radiology Today, stop by the library or view it here.

Schaeffer, J. (2017, February). An Interoperability Progress Report: Overcoming Hurdles to Sharing Patient Data. Radiology Today, 18(2). Pages 10-13.