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Varieties of interoperability in the transformation of the health-care information infrastructure

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4 Author(s)
Eckman, B.A. ; IBM Software Group, 1475 Phoenixville Pike, West Chester, Pennsylvania 19380, USA ; Bennett, C.A. ; Kaufman, J.H. ; Tenner, J.W.

Health-care costs are rising dramatically. Errors in medical delivery are associated with an alarming number of preventable, often fatal adverse events. A promising strategy for reversing these trends is to modernize and transform the health-care information exchange (HIE), that is, the mobilization of health-care information electronically across organizations within a region or community. The current HIE is inefficient and error-prone; it is largely paper-based, fragmented, and therefore overly complex, often relying on antiquated IT (information technology). To address these weaknesses, projects are underway to build regional and national HIEs which provide interoperable access to a variety of data sources, by a variety of stakeholders, for a variety of purposes. In this paper we present a technologist's guide to health-care interoperability. We define the stakeholders, roles, and activities that comprise an HIE solution; we describe a spectrum of interoperability approaches and point out their advantages and disadvantages; and we look in some detail at a set of real-world scenarios, discussing the interoperability approaches that best address the needs. These examples are drawn from IBM experience with real-world HIE engagements.

Note: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Incorporated is distributing this Article with permission of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) who is the exclusive owner. The recipient of this Article may not assign, sublicense, lease, rent or otherwise transfer, reproduce, prepare derivative works, publicly display or perform, or distribute the Article.  

Published in:

IBM Systems Journal  (Volume:46 ,  Issue: 1 )