FAQ #5 - Value of Interoperability in Healthcare

Healthcare Interoperability FAQ Series

FAQ #5: What is the value of interoperability in healthcare?


Interoperability has great value in healthcare. And, in fact, it’s really the foundation of any comprehensive care coordinated healthcare system anywhere. And the challenges of getting here have been interesting to watch over the past 20 years.
But the bottom line is, if you’re trying to support a client, in terms of their whole person and person-centered healthcare needs, you have primary care, your doctors and your hospitals on one system; the electronic health record systems, which were largely designed initially for the purpose of documentation and billing in primary care and medicine. You’ve excluded or you don’t have access to other critical information about that person, for example, their behavioral health needs, mental health, substance use, abuse, addiction, other factors, social determinants of health and their housing status.
All this information about that client as a whole person, is critical for us to be able to do a good job of providing wraparound whole-person coordinated care, where we no longer work in silos. And that’s probably one of the biggest obstacles that interoperability allows us to overcome. In not understanding the whole person’s needs, it’s pointless to target only a single factor that’s a challenge for this person, or only one component of their overall health, primary care, behavioral health or social determinants of health.
We’ve known for a long time that approaching any one of these in silos is ineffective. And so really, interoperability just removes those barriers in terms of systems being able to now communicate with each other on a single standard, the SMART on FHIR standard. It really makes it possible for professionals, social service agencies, primary care doc, any behavioral health support or specialists or clinicians to be able to be on the same page and coordinate the needs for this particular client, in terms of next steps in planning for their recovery, or effective treatment and monitoring the improvement of that client in responsible services.


Dr. Steve Weatherbee

Dr. Weatherbee has spent decades working in education, behavioral health, public health, and more. He has experienced the unique challenges that exist in this field from multiple disciplines. His work in program evaluation lead him to create eINSIGHT to empower behavioral health service providers to improve client outcomes.