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A new tool in the Cerner interoperability product suite seamlessly integrates health data from different EHRs so the data is more immediately useful to healthcare providers.
A longstanding interoperability challenge for healthcare systems is data formatting. While standards exist, healthcare systems often put their own twist on inputting data into the EHR, which can make it cumbersome for external data to easily integrate with internal EHR data.
Cerner's Seamless Exchange focuses on integrating external patient data into the EHR, resulting in a single view of patient data rather than providers having to view external data separately. The tool is also able to deduplicate and reconcile data where necessary, which is a standout feature, according to Brian Murphy, director of research at Chilmark Research.
Seamless Exchange is part of the Cerner Unite portfolio, a collection of products that focuses on data exchange between Cerner clients and external organizations. In conjunction with Cerner Unite, the vendor also launched Cerner Discover, a portfolio of tools focused on automating data analysis through machine learning and AI for clinical decision-making.
Brian Murphy Director of research, Chilmark Research
EHR vendors are striving to bring external health data in and make it easier for providers to use. For Cerner, Seamless Exchange is the next chapter on that journey, Murphy said.
"The dream of interoperability is this combined patient record," he said. "I'd say this is a pretty decent step in that direction."
Hans Buitendijk, director of interoperability strategy at Cerner, said Seamless Exchange is the central component of the Cerner Unite portfolio, assessing external data coming in for redundancies and automating several manual steps clinicians traditionally take to integrate external data with their internal EHR.
"This is taking a big step forward to making it easier, simpler, faster to get data from other providers and other sources, take that in, and then automate as much as possible based on the information available and intelligence to say this data can now be put into the patient record," he said. "Deduplicate, reconcile it, make sure it's well-related so when the provider is now looking at the patient's record, they have a more complete record, a better organized record."
Chilmark's Murphy said this is a significant step toward external data usability, as it reduces the number of steps providers go through to see and access that data in their workflows.
Michael Seda, senior director for regional operations at the Tiger Institute of Health Innovation at the University of Missouri and a Cerner client partner implementing the Seamless Exchange product, echoed the point. Instead of providers navigating a fragmented workflow, trying to view information as it comes in from external sources, the new Cerner interoperability tool allows providers to see external data right alongside internal data, according to Seda.
"If there are other providers out there, other sources that we trust, the ability to auto-reconcile that data and get it into our chart is a huge timesaver," Seda said. "Ultimately, what it's going to do then is it's going to make it to where our physicians are able to actually use that external data from care that was done outside of the health system when they're making care decisions for their patients."
Seda said simplifying the external data workflow and getting rid of duplicate datasets are some of the biggest benefits he expects to see from the tool, particularly as healthcare organizations are increasingly moving to a value-based care model, where providers are reimbursed based on quality of patient care.
"When this data comes in more efficiently, there's more likelihood that it's actually going to be incorporated into the chart, which is then going to be able to show providers things like, 'Oh, that test was already done somewhere else, we don't have to do the same test,'" he said.