pediatric ehr

Interoperability in Pediatrics

Interoperability is a term common to many pediatricians. The technology to share information between hospitals, clinics, labs, registries, and more is exciting. Where can you help your practice? In this post, we’ll cover why and how pediatricians can use this technology to better care for patients, share data with state registries, and access data from other medical locations.

Interoperability and Why it Matters

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) defines interoperability as “the ability of two or more systems to exchange health information and use the information once it is received”. Systems like EHRs and other places secure health information is stored must build specific connections with one another to be able to share data safely, which is why interoperability is a process that will take time to fully implement across systems and practices. 

Pediatric practices need and desire to connect with patients, other physicians, specialists, hospitals, and state registries to better coordinate patient care and to fulfill state regulations for reporting. In short, interoperability makes communication between these healthcare providers and patients more efficient. Depending less on manual input from practices means smoother workflows, faster and better care for patients, and potentially fewer human errors too.

Benefits of Interoperability in Pediatric Practice

It’s important to note that interoperability and health information exchange are not the same. According to the ONC, interoperability exchanges and uses health information, while health information exchange can only send data between systems. Another way to explain the difference is like comparing emails between colleagues in English, where both speak the same language, to sharing an email with a colleague who responds in Portuguese. If you don’t speak the language, information is exchanged, but you cannot use it without another tool.

PCC EHR is a member of the Carequality Interoperability Framework, which means that PCC practices don’t have to create and sign legal agreements for query-based Clinical Document Exchange between data partners like hospitals. Many clinics and hospitals are already connected via the growing Carequality network and can elect to share documents more efficiently. You can search for which providers are available to connect with via Carequality here.

Immunization Information Systems (IIS)

Immunization information systems (IIS), better known as immunization registries, are databases that collect immunization data from participating physicians in a certain geographic location.  This data helps states and healthcare authorities remain informed on population health. The data is also great for pediatric practices, who use vaccine data to forecast when patients are due for vaccines, and identify patients who are overdue or missing doses. 

Missing data? In certain locations, bi-directional immunization registry interfaces allow your practices to import missing patient data, preventing over-vaccination and updating patient records. Check out the growing list of states where this feature is available.

Forecasting Based on Immunization History

PCC displays forecasted immunization results from the IMMUCAST™ service by Scientific Technologies Corporation. STC bases their schedule according to ACIP immunization schedule guidelines from the CDC.

For practices that see hundreds or even thousands of patients, it can be difficult to track vaccine schedules for each one, let alone pull data for those missing vaccines. Since IMMUCAST forecasting requires that PCC provide de-identified immunization history data, pediatricians have access to smart tools that help close gaps in this essential healthcare without sharing a patient’s medical information.

Connect to eLabs

PCC supports connections to a wide variety of the most commonly used lab services for lab results, such as LabCorp and many more. PCC users can also opt to add a new connection to PCC EHR for a one-time fee. Check out the complete list here.

Why connect to labs? Instead of waiting for fax or mailed labs, you can access e-labs from connected partners right in the patient’s chart within the EHR. This ensures both faster access to lab results, which can then be shared with patients directly, and a safe record of the lab in the patient’s chart.

Access eRx

Electronic prescriptions or eRx solutions are a great tool for any pediatric practice. Interoperable connections with pharmacies allow pediatricians to send prescriptions and alter dosages, and allow pharmacists to send renewal notifications for pediatricians to approve. The ability to connect with pharmacies right from the EHR is both convenient and useful for managing large amounts of patient medication data.

There’s so much to love about eRx, from 3-month prescriptions for ADHD medications to fewer calls to the pharmacy, since interoperability eases communications. We recommend this previous post to learn more about eRx at PCC.

The Future of Interoperability at PCC

With every interoperability connection to PCC EHR, pediatricians have greater access to the healthcare and population data that empowers them to close patient care gaps, keep cleaner records, report data more confidently, and make fewer errors. Check out what practices can do with the growing list of connections at PCC:

  • Check eligibility 
  • Electronic Claims Submission (ECS) and Electronic Remittance Advice (ERA)
  • Demographic connections
  • In-office lab equipment connections
  • Claims & billing data
  • Population health

Interoperability promises great things for pediatric practices, because no practice truly works alone. Enabling connections, just like patient relationships, allows for better healthcare.

What health information exchange boils down to can seem very simple: sending a lab result via email to a worried parent may seem like a small thing. However, this simple act represents exciting advances in healthcare technology that have taken many years and a lot of work to accomplish. 

As the connections between pediatricians and pharmacies, specialists, hospitals, labs, and more grow in number, so do the opportunities available. Secure and shareable patient data makes workflows efficient, enables coordination of care between multiple provider locations, and best of all, allows families and pediatricians to better communicate about children’s healthcare. 

Interoperability is all about connections. Efficient communication with other healthcare providers, locations, and families can only make pediatricians’ jobs easier and children’s healthcare better. Sharing ideas and goals outside of your practice is a great way to help your business grow. Are you doing everything you can to connect with the world of pediatrics? Learn how to engage with other industry experts and independent clinicians in our webinar with PCC’s Chip Hart.

Build a Better Business  by Walking Out Your Door

Allie Squires

Allie Squires is PCC's Marketing Content Writer and editor of The Independent Pediatrician. She holds a master's in Professional Writing from NYU.