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Nutrition Informatics Blog

Interoperability: What’s in It for Me?

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Interoperability: What’s in It for Me?

By Jan Greer-Carney, MS, MBA, RD, LD

Actually, interoperability is one of those things I really look forward to. Have you ever needed medical care when away from home? This happens to my kids all the time! You probably can relate to the dilemma.

Most recently, my youngest son dislocated his shoulder skiing in Colorado. He went from the medical center on the slope to the local hospital and then received follow-up care from a local orthopedic surgeon. He had his insurance card and gave the information to the providers. Although I knew we had not met our deductible, we did not receive a bill for services. When my son returned home to New Hampshire after the ski season, a bill for the services greeted him. The insurance company was not billed. In fact, the insurance information had not followed him from one provider to the next.

He will now see an orthopedic surgeon here. Can you imagine the convenience of having his health care information from Colorado shared electronically with his current health care provider? Instead, he had to go to the hospital in Colorado and pick up a disc with his x-rays and medical report. Then he had to go to the orthopedic surgeon’s office and pick up his follow-up report. When he got home, he hand delivered all of this to our local orthopedic surgeon’s office.

At the hospital in Colorado, he was given a prescription for pain medication. He had to take the prescription to three pharmacies before he found a pharmacy that participated in our insurance plan. I find it totally unacceptable to send an injured person in pain on a wild chase for a pharmacy to fill a prescription for pain medication.

The solution: Interoperability! Just visualize what it would feel like to have the ability to exchange patient information between different health care facilities electronically. My son and your children and you and I could have our medical information when and where we need it.


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