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How an open EHR advances usability for healthcare providers

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

by Sam Lambson

Published on 3/4/2022

Can you imagine a world where you couldn’t call or text family and friends who have a different cell phone provider than yours? Or the impact on your daily work if you couldn’t exchange emails with anyone using a different email service?

Most people would agree that these scenarios would be unacceptable. Yet, in the world of healthcare, when it comes to our personal medical data, it’s often a reality.

During the past several decades, the digitization of health records has made information more easily available, comprehensive, secure and transferable between systems. Yet, while electronic health records (EHRs) have helped us make progress toward more patient-centered care, there’s still much to be done.

Where we are today with interoperability is nowhere near where we should be tomorrow. We must work as a team to make providers' jobs easier so they can keep their focus on what matters most – the patient. To move from connectivity to true usability, the industry must prioritize open and interoperable platforms. We can’t rest until we’ve left burdensome data sifting in the past.

Open to connecting

Cerner has long believed that to improve the health of people and populations, different information systems, devices and apps must be able to connect across organizational boundaries to securely exchange patient health data. Interoperability is foundational to more informed and efficient healthcare.

That’s why Cerner is a founding member of the CommonWell Health Alliance, which champions and enables health data exchange between providers regardless of the EHR vendor. In addition, a recent agreement between Cerner and the Social Security Administration will help simplify patient disability benefits claims through secure, clinical EHR retrieval from health systems.

We remain vocal proponents of increasing connectivity between hospitals and health systems. But for this to be successful, all EHR vendors must share this commitment.

Open to innovation

An open platform makes it easier for organizations to share information and integrate apps that enhance workflows and fill growing business needs, such as ambulatory, clinical decision support, scheduling and emergency medicine. Openness takes the EHR to the next level and is a powerful way to help physicians be more proactive in addressing issues such as the opioid crisis, prescription price transparency, patient safety, emergency department readmission rates and more.

We‘re committed to collaborating with others to make the process of integrating cutting-edge advancements into the EHR less complicated. Through the Cerner Open Developer Experience (code), we’re providing a structured validation process that helps third-party and client developers secure, optimize, integrate and scale their health applications.

Open to addressing challenges

We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the unprecedented influx of big data that will only increase clinician burnout until the industry gets on the same page around prioritizing open, interoperable and usable healthcare data.

Cerner is actively pushing to transform the delivery of our products and solutions so that we can help enhance the clinical experience for patients and providers. We continue to engage physicians and other clinicians in the design and implementation of EHR workflows to better reflect how they approach their work and ensure the technology is supporting them in simplifying their daily tasks. In fact, Cerner recently announced its first chief health officer, an experienced clinician who will help us refine technology that provides more value to caregivers and patients.

The bottom line is that we all share responsibilities in addressing clinician burnout as a whole. We have to work together to reduce variability, create efficiency and drive best practices.

Open to collaboration

Clearly, the traditional healthcare model is changing, and partnerships continue to be a major part in this evolution. The only way we can truly address the challenges of healthcare is to collaborate with others.

Our goal is not to innovate in a vacuum and only focus on what Cerner can do, so we’re joining forces with organizations that aren’t traditional healthcare companies but are playing a significant role in the much-needed work of disrupting the industry status quo. For example, Cerner works with Apple to enable patients to share elected data that’s tracked by their iPhone and Apple Watch with healthcare providers or family members. Through code Developer Program, we’re also helping providers more easily conduct telehealth visits through a seamless integration with Microsoft’s cloud-based healthcare service.

Open to the future

Developments around interoperability have the potential to radically advance EHRs and other health IT tools ─ ultimately leading to enhanced patient outcomes and improved clinician satisfaction.

We’ve made strides, but we aren’t satisfied with the current state of the EHR, nor the state of the entire industry. Just as we wouldn’t accept being unable to communicate with friends, family and co-workers who use different phone and email services, we, as consumers and leaders in healthcare, shouldn’t accept less-than-full interoperability. Nor should we accept the status quo. To get the full benefit of the EHR in how we deliver care, the industry must be willing to be open on all fronts.

We’re excited to return to HIMSS Global Health Conference and Exhibition 2022! In addition to our main booth (#3041), make sure you visit the Cerner-sponsored Interoperability Showcase (#8240). We have curated several interoperability-related activities for you to engage with at HIMSS22. Learn more here.