The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act enacted in 2009 created a new requirement for healthcare organizations known as the Electronic Health Records (EHR) mandate. The mandate requires that healthcare organizations demonstrate meaningful use of electronic medical records to achieve several objectives in healthcare:
Many healthcare organizations have migrated their patient data, previously kept in paper files and folders, into digitized databases to satisfy the requirements of the EHR mandate. However, a major challenge with the introduction of EHR has been interoperability between EHR database software and the many different types of connected and embedded devices that collect data from patients in the clinical setting.
Interoperability is defined as the ability of different information systems and software communications to exchange data and to use the information that is exchanged for some purpose. In an ideal world, all connected and embedded systems in the healthcare environment would use the same communication protocols and data standards to transmit information to the EHR. This would allow hospitals to automate data capture and give clinicians the widest possible perspective into patient status.
In the real world, however, no interoperability standard has been agreed on for devices that collect healthcare data. Certain devices and applications may interface poorly with EHR applications, making the captured data inaccessible to the physicians and patients that would otherwise benefit from it.