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Quantitating and assessing interoperability between electronic health records

Elmer V Bernstam, Jeremy L Warner, John C Krauss, Edward Ambinder, Wendy S Rubinstein, George Komatsoulis, Robert S Miller, James L Chen

Abstract: Objectives: Electronic health records (EHRs) contain a large quantity of machine-readable data. However, institutions choose different EHR vendors, and the same product may be implemented differently at different sites. Our goal was to quantify the interoperability of real-world EHR implementations with respect to clinically relevant structured data. Materials and Methods: We analyzed de-identified and aggregated data from 68 oncology sites that implemented 1 of 5 EHR vendor products. Using 6 medications and 6 laboratory tests for which well-accepted standards exist, we calculated inter- and intra-EHR vendor interoperability scores. Results: The mean intra-EHR vendor interoperability score was 0.68 as compared to a mean of 0.22 for inter-system interoperability, when weighted by number of systems of each type, and 0.57 and 0.20 when not weighting by number of systems of each type. Discussion: In contrast to data elements required for successful billing, clinically relevant data elements are rarely standardized, even though applicable standards exist. We chose a representative sample of laboratory tests and medications for oncology practices, but our set of data elements should be seen as an example, rather than a definitive list. Conclusions: We defined and demonstrated a quantitative measure of interoperability between site EHR systems and within/between implemented vendor systems. Two sites that share the same vendor are, on average, more interoperable. However, even for implementation of the same EHR product, interoperability is not guaranteed. Our results can inform institutional EHR selection, analysis, and optimization for interoperability.
Keywords: interoperability / EHR vendor / implemented / implementation of the same EHR / optimization / structured / quantitative

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