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The Value of CCDs on the Road Toward Interoperability

The Value of CCDs on the Road Toward Interoperability EHR

For many hospitals and healthcare providers, the industry wide push toward interoperability can sometimes feel like a pipe dream.

For smaller rural providers, who may contend with additional challenges like a lack of financial or technological resources, the promise of interoperability could feel even farther away.

Historically, unlike larger hospitals in more urban areas, rural hospitals have been forced to confront other barriers to achieving a healthy modernized IT infrastructure such as a lack of health IT transparency, data blocking, inconsistent electronic health record (EHR) adoption across specialty providers and standards for health information exchange, according to a 2016 report from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

More and more hospitals and healthcare providers are turning to EHR vendors for help improving their level of interoperability and ability to create a meaningful data exchange environment that supports the delivery of high-quality care to patients.

As an example, picture this: A patient is admitted to a hospital and is having trouble recalling their full medical history; luckily, the patient can name their primary care provider (PCP). Hospital staff are able to reach the patient’s PCP and have them securely send a Continuity of Care Document (CCD) document that can seamlessly be incorporated into the patient’s chart. Without this essential information, the hospital would not have been able to fully address and meet the patient’s care needs.

The core document at the heart of a provider’s interoperability is a CCD, Continuity of Care Document. It is often referred to as the patient’s Summary of Care (SOC) document. Built using HL7 Clinical Document Architecture, the CCD gives an overview of the patient’s history—including any allergies, medical problems and medications—as well as information on their most recent physician encounter or hospitalization. Patients can access their data via this document, plus the patient’s CCD can also be sent to their PCP, and any referral providers and receiving facilities, to ensure an effective continuum of care and clinical workflow among clinicians and physicians.

Aside from enabling better communication between patient and provider, CCDs also can dramatically optimize care coordination by providing information that will be vital in the next stage of a patient’s care, treatment and recovery.  In addition, the CCD was designed to meet government standards, including MU requirements, and can be customized by the user.

This customization functionality allows the doctor to prioritize the sections of the CCD that are most important to them. They can define the order of the sections within the CCD and those preferences are saved and used to display all future CCDs for that provider, which allows nurses and physicians to avoid the inconvenience of scrolling through pages of data to find the sections that are of most interest.

CCDs are valuable tools in not only enabling the seamless coordination of care, but also in improving a hospital’s interoperability. The journey toward interoperability is complex and can, at times, feel overwhelming and unmanageable. However, prioritizing the value of CCDs simultaneously pushes your facility that much closer to interoperability and supports your mission to deliver the highest quality of care possible.

Get a ride on the road to becoming interoperable at your healthcare facility.   Email us at or call 1.800.383.6278 to speak with one of our specialists to learn how MEDHOST champions interoperability.

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