How is Interoperability Helpful in EHR?

June 9, 2023

As healthcare institutions become a more complex structure of clinical data, Electronic Health Records (EHR) seem to become a more pressing need to sort and store the large influx of daily patient information. Electronic Health Records (EHR) have recently become of customary use at most healthcare practices in America. The conventional EHR systems showcase a unique ability to collect, store, and maintain patient data.  

This data not only helps keep track of a patient’s history, but can also be accessed by clinical researchers to test hypotheses or to share through to other EHR systems. However, before we dive into the specifics of this system, lets grasp the concept of Electronic Health Records.

What are Electronic Health Records (EHR)?

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) is a vast expanse of clinical literature that allows for a reliable, safe space for storing patient information, digitally. EHR is a newer, multipurpose version of medical paper charts, an older form of storing patient data that would require an endless exercise of sorting through several folders to search for one with the patient’s name.

EHR displays the patient’s name, contact information, former laboratory test results, and medical and drug history, all with the click of the cursor. This saves time and preserves the confidentiality of a patient’s sensitive information by securely saving it within the EHR’s own storage system.

In case of patient referrals or case transfers, the electronic health record system also allows for a smooth transaction of information between two medical professionals by securely sharing a patient’s file through other EHR systems.

This ensures that a patient shall be looked after with complete continuity, no matter which healthcare institution they may be choose to be treated at. An advanced and efficient EHR system shall thus, possess interoperability, in order to seamlessly share information to other EHR systems.

What is Interoperability in EHR?

The term interoperability refers to the process of amalgamating one EHR with another for the purpose of sharing medical records.  

Without interoperability, the transfer of data may not only be less secure, threatening confidentiality of patient data, but it may also adversely affect the uniformity in healthcare delivery for patients that may be in urgent need for a safe and seamless transfer, in order to attain unwavering, optimum healthcare.

Let us now understand how interoperability can help boost EHR systems.

1. It Enhances Communication

One vital feature that EHR systems possess, and therefore the major reason for its popularity in healthcare institutions today, is its ability to communicate.

The core reason for this ability in EHR systems is interoperability. If interoperability does not exist in EHR systems, its use would become invalid. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that any Electronic Health Record system installed should possess interoperability. An interoperable EHR can store data in a simple code format that is easy to detect and interpret by other EHR systems across the country. This will then ensure, continuity of transfer, security of information, and high-quality healthcare delivery across the country.

2. Saves Time

The former, inessential format of storing medical records and clinical data on paper was tedious and ineffective. Clinicians spend too much of their time trying to sort through files or wait for the delivery of patient data to continue or revamp treatment protocols.

Through the interoperability of EHR systems, updated patient data is available far before the patient’s transfer process. This gives medical professionals and their teams adequate time to interpret a patient’s history, and devise a plan of action before the patient is brought in for treatment.

3. Ensures Patient Satisfaction

Interoperability in EHR systems can be passively beneficial for patients receiving long-term healthcare. Patients can remain at ease knowing their information is safely and efficiently transferred to other healthcare providers without having to stress about the loss of information during the transfer. This results in patients carrying fewer documents on the day of the treatment since medical practitioners shall already possess a detailed medical record before the end referral process.

4. Cost Efficient for Medical Practices

Since interoperable EHR systems save a large amount of time during data transfer, medical professionals will therefore be able to treat far more patients at a time than they were previously. Furthermore, medical practices shall also be able to swiftly dodge most of the malpractice lawsuits since EHR allows for transparency across different systems, promoting efficient healthcare delivery across all specialties.

Lastly, healthcare institutions can save on laboratory costs if similar tests have already been performed by the patient’s former medical practitioner.


While the bounds of interoperability remain a figment of one’s imagination, there is no doubt that while searching for the right electronic health records system, interoperability is paramount. Since there are many EHR systems present in the market, one must remember that one size may not fit all. An efficient and high-quality EHR system is one that encompasses the asset of interoperability to be perceived as a high-quality, powerful operating system that functions to the benefit of the patient, the clinician, and the healthcare institution. To learn more about how EHR systems can help eliminate medical errors, click here.