Connecting disparate technologies to enable seamless care

BD Institute for Medication Management Excellence

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Interoperability 2.0: Connecting disparate technologies to enable seamless care

PUBLISHED: Sep 10, 2018

BD Medication Management Solutions

In healthcare today, the most common understanding of interoperability is the ability of devices and systems to exchange data with other devices and systems. This interpretation is regrettably limited, having a bias towards software connectivity and data exchange alone. True interoperability may have the potential to drive better clinical, patient and financial outcomes across the care continuum, but the current, narrow focus on data exchange alone could limit the desired results.

Expanding the definition of interoperability

While data exchange is a critically important first step, there is a need to redefine interoperability. At BD, we believe interoperability must expand beyond its current definition to embrace an outcomes-focused approach. We call this “interoperability 2.0.” That is, focusing on driving better outcomes via smart, autonomous actions through the uninterrupted and secure exchange of data between devices and systems, across the continuum of care.

Interoperability 2.0 enables seamless care

The challenge in healthcare is to deliver cost-effective and seamless care. This means high-quality, proactive care centered on an individual, at the appropriate care setting, whether acute, non-acute or home. To enable seamless care, many technologies and systems must come together in a patient-centric manner, including software, devices, analytics, clinical knowledge and services.

To accomplish all of this, interoperability 2.0 must focus on four areas:

Meaningful outcomes through smart, autonomous actions

Healthcare must move beyond data exchange that interoperability naturally enables, and shift the focus to both near real-time and predictive analytics with insights derived from these analytics. This can help to drive autonomous workflows that can lead to measurable outcomes.

High reliability

As it stands today, interoperability often reflects connectivity at a single point in time. To create a highly reliable system, a continuous and uninterrupted ability to exchange health data is needed. To illustrate the limitations, consider a hospital using one version of application software. They might be able to exchange data with another app without issue—until one or both of those apps upgrade to a new version of the software. Once that occurs, there is no guarantee that they can continue to share data and, instead, may now experience an interface problem.

Security is also is a crucial element of a highly reliable system. According to the FDA, “cybersecurity concerns rise along with the increasing medical device interoperability."¹ To address this effectively, next generation interoperability requires robust cybersecurity standards.

Medication and patient safety

Sources of errors, such as differences in units of measure, can occur in medical devices connected to a data exchange system. FDA guidance recommends transparency around appropriate functional, performance, and interface requirements for devices with such interactions. Next generation interoperability needs to enhance patient and medication safety.²

Patient centricity

A broader interpretation of interoperability moves beyond an acute care focus to include the continuum of care. Connecting various sources of information across the care continuum is a key component in achieving population health management and patient-centric care.³


Roadmap to interoperability 2.0

To improve healthcare, institutions must expand the concept of interoperability beyond a data exchange focus. Success will be defined by the seamless integration of data, and actionable insights across the many components that influence health outcomes.

Within the context of medication management, healthcare organizations should consider a roadmap to next generation interoperability that includes technologies that share data and information with each other and with the EMR. Defining a roadmap that builds toward interoperability 2.0 has the potential to drive meaningful improvements in healthcare.

Learn more

Each month on the BD Institute for Medication Management Excellence blog, thought leaders explore topics of critical importance to medication management, and provide additional ways to learn.

Now that you've read about the future of interoperability, take a deeper dive by watching this video on creating seamless visibility across medication management technologies.


  1. FDA: Medical Device Interoperability. fdagov. 2018.
  2. Interoperability: FDA’s Final Guidance on Smart, Safe, Medical Device Interactions | FDA Voice. Blogsfdagov.
  3. Future of EHRs: Interoperability, Population Health, and the Cloud.