Interoperability is the ability to exchange information between many systems and provide the data to any system based on its necessity. Interoperability implies the extent of access rights one system has on the other and the extent of access possible.
Interoperable systems must be able to exchange information and modify it depending on the needs, and most importantly they must be able to present the data in terms of the user’s ability to understand it.
Interoperability in Health Care
In the health care industry, interoperability takes a slightly different meaning than the general one. One thing about the health industry is that it is not just the information that is important, but also its origin. Also a continuous update of the data is available from various sources. The healthcare interoperability has to provide a solution to all this problems related to information in the health industry.
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Data in the health industry must be able to be shared between doctors, physicians, surgeons, pharmacists, labs, hospital and the patient. This information exchange must be generic and transparent very quick indeed. Updating information must be done enough quickly and always a note of who generated the information is a must to be known.
There are 3 levels of interoperability in the information systems being used in the health care industry. They are the foundational level, structural and the semantic level interoperability. Let us look at a brief about each of these levels to get a more clear idea about the healthcare interoperability.
Levels of Healthcare Interoperability
Foundational level interoperability
It deals with a simple exchange of information between the systems. It is a basic data transfer which is a necessity. The receiving end need not be in a position to interpret that data and use the data for any other purposes. A simple receive operation is enough to achieve this interoperability between the systems.
Structural healthcare interoperability
It is an intermediate level of interoperability that defines a data format for exchange and maintains a standard way of communication instead of a simple data transfer like the foundational healthcare interoperability. A syntax of the data is defined and only that particular format of exchange is used to maintain some level of data integrity. This level of healthcare interoperability ensures that the systems exchanging information can understand the exchanged data.
Semantic healthcare interoperability
This is the interoperability at the highest possible level. A clear distinction of the data format and the meaning of the data and the use of data is clearly defined and specified.
The data storage is itself done in a way that defines the interoperability between any two systems in a perfect order. Interpreting the data by the system involved is another important feature of the semantic healthcare interoperability.
Choosing the level of healthcare interoperability depends on the type of services being expected and the necessary features.