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What is Interoperability?

Interoperability in healthcare is the extent to which various systems and devices can not only exchange data, but interpret that data and display it in a user-friendly way. Practically speaking, this means that data exchange methods will allow data to be shared across hospitals, pharmacies, labs, clinicians and patients, regardless of which vendor is used.

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According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), interoperability of healthcare IT should work on three levels to advance healthcare for individuals and communities, including

  • Foundational Interoperability : Data, such as clinical image files, can be exchanged from one IT system to another
  • Structural Interoperability : The exchange of data from one system to the next can be interpreted at the data field level – it is preserved or unaltered. Ideally, this would create a uniform movement of healthcare data that remains unchanged in its operational and clinical forms
  • Semantic Interoperability : This process would make codified data clear because systems would use the same vocabulary and there would be no discrepancies between EMRs.

Why is Interoperability important?

  • Reduces operational cost and complexity
  • Enables “best-of-breed” deployments
  • Leverages existing investments


  • Improve patient care specially for Chronic patients
  • Better Access of Patient Records
  • It allows different systems and applications to communicate with one another
  • Fewer outages, large and small, due to better system monitoring, analysis, and management
  • Faster service restoration following an outage, due to the availability of better information about outage locations and causes, the availability of interchangeable parts, and highspeed, automated system operations
  • Better resource adequacy because interoperability enables better integration of diverse supply and demand-side resources, and substitution of demand-side reductions for supply resources