As the use of various technology systems continues to increase within medical practices, interoperability between those systems becomes critical.

An article called, “Interoperability a Key to Effective Communication” on the AAPC website states, “Disparate computer systems must communicate structured data in a way that both systems understand.” Consequences of having disparate systems could mean a loss of vital information without standardizing the data: “Uniform values, variables, data dictionaries, and vocabularies are necessary to avoid errors occurring with subjective information.”

Plan ahead—Interoperability takes time

What the article fails to mention is the time factor needed to make the different vendors interoperable. While some medical practices use a comprehensive and integrated set of solutions from a single vendor,  many practices are likely to pick and choose from software vendors the applications they prefer and ask those different vendors to build an interface together. This “best of breed” approach can be a costly and time consuming enterprise, but is usually considered worth the effort if a practice can get the tools they want to work the way they want. For any new software package a practice may purchase, the time and resources needed to make the new software interoperable with existing systems must be taken into account as part of the implementation process.

Time Tables for ICD-10 Preparedness

Along with managing interoperability concerns, practice leaders have a number of other significant issues on their plate today. Attesting for Meaningful Use Stage 1, Meaningful Use Stage 2, the possibility of implementing a new EHR, the possibility of  changing your current EHR or PM system, or preparing for health insurance exchanges (HIX) can all contribute to delaying preparation for the October 1, 2014 ICD-10 deadline. There are plenty of places to look for direction and assistance as you prepare for moving to ICD-10. Here is a suggested ICD-10 implementation timeline and here is a video explaining White Plume’s solution to ICD-10.