Interoperability in healthcare allows various healthcare information technology (HIT) to access, exchange, integrate, and communicate information. This is valuable for a number of reasons, including flexibility for organizations of varying maturities and creating holistic, portable patient and member records.
The Healthcare Information and Management System Society (HIMSS) created the following four levels of interoperability:
Level 1 – Foundational: Foundational interoperability establishes interconnectivity between HIT systems, allowing for secure data exchange.
Level 2 – Structural: Structural interoperability defines the format, structure, and syntax of data exchange. Structuring data in this way allows healthcare information to move between systems without losing the clinical or operational meaning of the data.
Level 3 – Semantic: Semantic interoperability combines standardized data structures, value sets, and vocabulary to simplify data interpretation. This standardization improves the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare delivery.
Level 4 – Organizational: Organizational interoperability facilitates secure and timely data sharing through governance, policy, and organizational regulations.