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Healthcare FAQ


What does interoperability in healthcare mean?

Interoperability describes the extent to which systems and devices can exchange data, and interpret that shared data. For two systems to be interoperable, they must be able to exchange data and subsequently present that data such that it can be understood by a user.

In healthcare, interoperability is the ability of different information technology systems and software applications to communicate, exchange data, and use the information that has been exchanged. Data exchange schema standards should permit data to be shared across clinicians, lab, hospital, pharmacy, and patient regardless of the application or application vendor.

Interoperability means the ability of health information systems to work together within and across organizational boundaries in order to advance the effective delivery of healthcare for individuals and communities. There are three levels of health information technology interoperability: foundational, structural and semantic.

  1. Foundational interoperability allows data exchange from one information technology system to be received by another and does not require the ability for the receiving information technology system to interpret the data.
  2. Structural interoperability is an intermediate level that defines the structure or format of data exchange where there is uniform movement of healthcare data from one system to another such that the clinical or operational purpose and meaning of the data is preserved and unaltered. Structural interoperability defines the syntax of the data exchange. It ensures that data exchanges between information technology systems can be interpreted at the data field level.
  3. Semantic interoperability provides interoperability at the highest level, which is the ability of two or more systems or elements to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged. Semantic interoperability takes advantage of both the structuring of the data exchange and the codification of the data including vocabulary so that the receiving information technology systems can interpret the data. This level of interoperability supports the electronic exchange of patient summary information among caregivers and other authorized parties via potentially disparate electronic health record (EHR) systems and other systems to improve quality, safety, efficiency, and efficacy of healthcare delivery.

What is an electronic health record (EHR)?

An electronic health record (EHR) is a digital version of a patient’s paper chart. EHRs are real-time, patient-centered records that make information available instantly and securely to authorized users. While an EHR does contain the medical and treatment histories of patients, an EHR system is built to go beyond standard clinical data collected in a provider’s office and can be inclusive of a broader view of a patient’s care. EHRs can:

  1. Contain a patient’s medical history, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images, and laboratory and test results
  2. Allow access to evidence-based tools that providers can use to make decisions about a patient’s care
  3. Automate and streamline provider workflow

One of the key features of an EHR is that health information can be created and managed by authorized providers in a digital format capable of being shared with other providers across more than one health care organization. EHRs are built to share information with other health care providers and organizations – such as laboratories, specialists, medical imaging facilities, pharmacies, emergency facilities, and school and workplace clinics – so they contain information from all clinicians involved in a patient’s care

Source: https://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/faqs/what-electronic-health-record-ehr


What is genomics?

Genomics is the branch of science that studies the genome – the genetic material, or blue print, of a human or other species (animal, plant, microbe) that is contained in its DNA – to better understand the workings of the organism, and what happens when certain genes interact with each other and the environment.

Genomics is the study of the genome. The genome is: The entirety of an organism's hereditary information. It is encoded either in DNA or, for many types of virus, in RNA.


What is precision medicine?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), precision medicine is “an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person.” This approach will allow doctors and researchers to predict more accurately which treatment and prevention strategies for a particular disease will work in which groups of people. It is in contrast to a “one-size-fits-all” approach, in which disease treatment and prevention strategies are developed for the average person, with less consideration for the differences between individuals.

Although the term “precision medicine” is relatively new, the concept has been a part of healthcare for many years. For example, a person who needs a blood transfusion is not given blood from a randomly selected donor; instead, the donor’s blood type is matched to the recipient to reduce the risk of complications. Although examples can be found in several areas of medicine, the role of precision medicine in day-to-day healthcare is relatively limited. Researchers hope that this approach will expand too many areas of health in coming years.

Source: http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/precisionmedicine/definition


What is Health IT?

The term "health information technology" (health IT) is a broad concept that encompasses an array of technologies to store, share, and analyze health information. More and more, health care providers are using health IT to improve patient care. But health IT isn't just for health care providers. You can use health IT to better communicate with your doctor, learn and share information about your health, and take actions that will improve your quality of life. Health IT lets you be a key part of the team that keeps you healthy.

Source: https://www.healthit.gov/patients-families/basics-health-it