Data Element Library: One Step Closer to Healthcare Interoperability

Data element library image 3432The White House Office of the American Innovation, in association with the ONC, CMS and HHS has been pushing for a healthcare model that puts patients in the driver’s seat of their healthcare process. Initiatives such as the ‘Patients Over Paperwork’ and ‘MyHealthEdata’, were the first of the spearheading trends that paved the way for a greater degree of patient engagement in healthcare. These initiatives were aimed at enabling patients to be able to take their health record data from one doctor to the next one for consultation.The process that ensued, to achieve this was to provide patients with electronic access and complete control of their EHR data. As a result of this, patients were able to choose a care provider that met their specific treatment needs.

The DEL or the Data Element Library is the latest initiative that comes from the CMS. In simple words, the DEL is a centralized database that was designed to provide American citizens with access to specific data types such as patient health assessments. These assessments include a predetermined set of questions that are specifically designed to capture patient demographics information, overview of medical problems and an overall evaluation of the patient’s health. In addition to this, DEL provides healthcare practices and HIT vendors with a single stop solution that hosts data element in multiple standards ensuring seamless connectivity between different EHR systems as well.

A Closer Look at the Importance of Data Element Library

DEL is by far, the most important addition to the EHR interoperability effort from the CMS. It promotes the use and sharing of healthcare data and is in perfect sync with a government wide effort of promoting the interoperability of patient health information. The following are the primary features of the Data Element Library that make it an effective tool to achieve a greater degree of interoperability:

Cost Reduction:  Care providers can quickly reduce system implementation costs and bank on the efficiency of common tools with the release of the DEL. The scope of cost reduction mainly comes from the use of common tools to record patient history and treatment details that saves care providers from investing in mainstream systems that are popular.

Support For a Wide Number of Healthcare Standards:  Most of the data elements of the DEL are standardized. This means that healthcare organizations and HIT vendors can access and move healthcare data from one setting to another without any challenges with regards to data and system standards. Everytime a patient changes the services of a care provider, their healthcare records can be accessed easily by a new medical consultant. This versatility transcends the traditional limitations of healthcare standards that made it difficult for different EHR systems to connect with each other.

Improved Communication Among Providers: The ability of the DEL to connect different healthcare systems together greatly improves the quality of communication between providers. A new doctor can quickly get up to speed, the moment a patient seeks their consultation services, by accessing the EHR details hosted on the central platform. Providers can also submit queries and question related to a patient’s health condition whilst keeping the patient themselves, in the loop of communication.

Better Coordination of Care: Since care providers and patients can access EHR entries and data on demand, all the parties coordinating for the care process can collaborate well. This leads to better coordination of care and with it, better patient health outcomes as well. All stakeholders including vendors, providers and academicians can log into the database to assess the quality of the EHR records and report inaccuracies. This flow of accurate information greatly reduces the risk unnecessary complications like misdiagnosis.

Not every healthcare provider is leveraging the full potential of EHR systems. The release of DEL has vastly minimized the limitations of that hinder the potential of EHR systems. The centralized nature of the DEL has now opened up the opportunity for doctors and HIT vendors to achieve better alignment and presentation of healthcare data.