Interoperability -- the ability of systems to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged -- can help solve the healthcare crisis. The West Health Institute's HCI-DC 2014, co-hosted by ONC, brought together experts from across the healthcare community to consider how interoperability can cut costs, improve efficiency, reduce errors, and improve health. Interoperability across systems and care settings can empower patients, help doctors make better decisions, and allowing all healthcare providers to spend more time with patients. It can accelerate innovation and free up technology resources in hospitals so that they can focus on improving care in the community.
It is by implementing standards-based technology that we can achieve interoperability between systems. Standards can help by moving us away from proprietary solutions and toward open source solutions. Commonly adopted standards will eliminate the custom interfaces required today, lessening associated costs, risks and time. Interoperability supported by standards-based exchange and semantics will help us finally harness the power of information technologies to improve healthcare.The experts at HCI-DC 2014 considered what we must do to tap into the information technology revolution that has transformed other industries to solve some of healthcare's thorniest problems. Their deliberations have been consolidated into the Call to Action offered in this document. Their key message: All of us must work together now to ignite an interoperable system. It is a burning issue. Our patients are waiting.