Achieving Interoperability: The Importance of EHR Functionality Standards

Get a FREE Demo

Standardizing Health Data Exchange for Better Care Coordination

EHR functionality standards aim to allow different EHR systems to exchange data effectively. By providing consistent capabilities, functionality standards enable seamless sharing of patient information across various healthcare providers.

Electronic health records (EHRs) have become an indispensable part of modern healthcare. By digitizing patient information that was previously stored on paper, EHRs make it easier for providers to access and share patient data. 

However, without standardized functionalities, EHRs from different vendors often cannot exchange data effectively. This lack of interoperability can negatively impact patient care.

EHR functionality standards aim to address these interoperability challenges. By providing a consistent set of capabilities, they allow seamless data exchange across different EHR systems. 

This article will discuss the core functionalities of EHRs, the significance of functionality standards, examples of leading standards, and how providers can implement them to unlock the full potential of digital health records.

What are Electronic Health Records?

Electronic health records (EHRs) are digital versions of patient medical charts that are maintained by healthcare providers. EHRs contain comprehensive medical and treatment histories for patients and are designed to be accessed and shared electronically.

The key benefits of EHRs include:

  • Securely storing and making patient health information accessible to authorized healthcare providers
  • Enabling providers to update and manage patient records over time
  • Facilitating electronic exchange of patient data between care settings
  • Promoting care coordination and continuity of care
  • Reducing medical errors and improving patient safety
  • Increasing operational efficiency in healthcare delivery
  • Enabling reporting on quality metrics and population health trends
  • Supporting clinical decision making and evidence-based care

See how Calysta EMR delivers the key benefits of EHRs to maximize efficiency and quality of care. Schedule a demo today

Core Functionalities of Electronic Health Records

At their core, EHRs are meant to digitize patient information to improve clinical workflow efficiency. The typical capabilities expected from an EHR system include:

Patient Demographics ManagementRecording and tracking patient details like name, date of birth, gender, address, insurance details etc.
Clinical Data CaptureStructured entry of patient health data including medications, immunizations, allergies, medical history, lab results etc.
Progress NotesLongitudinal documentation of clinical encounters, care plans, assessments and key treatment decisions.
Order ManagementPlacing lab, imaging and pharmacy orders and tracking their fulfillment electronically.
Decision SupportContext-specific alerts, reminders and clinical guidelines to aid evidence-based care.
ReportingPopulation health management reports, clinical quality measures and other analytics.

EHRs differ from electronic medical records (EMRs) in their scope. EMRs focus narrowly on documenting clinical data within a single organization. EHRs go beyond by including a broader view of a patient’s health through data sharing between providers.

Why Functionality Standards Are Vital

While EHR adoption in the US has increased from 13% in 2008 to 87% in 2019, their potential benefits have been limited by lack of interoperability between different vendor systems. This fragmentation means patient information does not flow seamlessly when they transition between providers on different EHR platforms.

Standardized functionalities address this problem by allowing uniform capture, storage and exchange of health data across disparate systems. The key advantages of EHR functionality standards include:

  1. Continuity of Care

Data fluidity provided by standardized EHR systems significantly improves coordination and continuity of care across different healthcare providers. Complete and up-to-date patient information is available whenever and wherever it is required, supporting smooth transitions and reducing dangerous gaps in care.

  1. Enhanced Data Exchange

The consistent data structure and terminology provided by EHR functionality standards enables seamless cross-platform data exchange and EHR system interoperability. This allows patient data to flow securely between disparate systems and locations.

  1. Reduced Errors

By supporting uniform data handling, standardized EHRs reduce mismatches, inconsistencies, and errors that can occur when translating between different systems. This improves overall data quality and enhances patient safety.

  1. Streamlined Workflows

Familiar system interactions and consistent workflows lower training needs for healthcare providers and increase efficiency. This allows clinicians to spend more time delivering care rather than learning multiple interfaces.

  1. Improved Analytics

Standardized data collection and reporting capabilities allow health systems to easily aggregate clinical data across sites and services. This enables impactful analytics, quality improvements, and reporting.

  1. Patient Engagement

Standards-based patient portals and data accessibility features engage patients as partners in their care. This supports self-management, care coordination, and patient satisfaction.

H7 and OpenEHR: Leading Functionality Standards

Doctor and Patient Consult

 Two of the most widely adopted EHR functionality standards are OpenEHR and HL7 FHIR. These standards aim to enable semantic interoperability and facilitate the portability of health data across systems.


OpenEHR is an open standard that provides a comprehensive, shared information model for representing electronic health record (EHR) data. Its key focus is on enabling semantic interoperability between health IT systems to facilitate the portability and exchange of clinical data.

The OpenEHR architecture consists of a reference model, archetypes, and terminologies. The reference model provides a generic, stable information paradigm for modeling health record components. Archetypes contain formal definitions of clinical concepts in a computable format based on the reference model. Terminologies like SNOMED-CT are used within archetypes to represent clinical meaning.

Some key features and advantages of OpenEHR include:

  • Flexible approach to modeling health data, enabling fine-grained structured recording of clinical information.
  • Archetype formalisms allow clinical knowledge modeling independent of technical implementations.
  • Promotes interoperability by separating technical and clinical aspects of EHR systems.
  • Vendor-neutral and open source to prevent vendor lock-in.
  • Fosters transparency and collaboration through open specifications and community approach.
  • Supports comprehensive, lifetime electronic health records with complete provenance of data.
  • Enables analysis and decision support through rich, structured data capabilities.


FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) is a standard for exchanging healthcare information electronically developed by Health Level Seven International (HL7).

Key features and advantages of FHIR include:

  • Uses modern web standards and architecture for flexible implementation.
  • Modular components called “Resources” allow granular access to health data.
  • Accessible APIs promote easy integration of health data into apps and systems.
  • Focus on core clinical data exchange requirements for broad adoption.
  • Extensive implementation guides and tooling provide development support.
  • Backwards compatibility with legacy HL7 standards.
  • Large community of contributors and implementations.

FHIR aims to simplify implementation without compromising information integrity. It strikes a balance between competing requirements of flexibility and structure. FHIR Resources cover a wide range of clinical concepts from medications to care plans, enabling targeted data access.

Integrate seamlessly with other systems using Calysta's HL7 FHIR-enabled platform. Get in touch with us

Key Steps for Implementing EHR Functionality Standards

Implementing standardized functionality across electronic health record (EHR) systems is crucial for improving interoperability and care coordination. Healthcare providers looking to successfully implement EHR functionality standards should follow these key steps:

  1. Conduct a thorough assessment of existing EHR systems, workflows, and data exchange needs. Identify current system limitations and gaps in standardized capabilities. Engage clinicians to map ideal workflows.
  2. Research EHR functionality standards like FHIR, C-CDA, and USCDI. Prioritize capabilities that will maximize interoperability, care coordination, patient engagement, and clinical efficiency.
  3. Collaborate closely with your EHR vendor on planning and timelines. Discuss how proposed upgrades will optimize workflows and data exchange. Ensure adequate testing and validation of new capabilities.
  4. Create a phased rollout plan for incremental upgrades focused on specific capabilities and user groups. Pilot changes before wide-scale implementation.
  5. Develop robust training programs and support resources for clinicians and staff learning upgraded workflows. Appoint super-users to provide on-site guidance.
  6. Improve data exchange through partnerships with external providers, HIEs, and patients. Implement APIs, messaging standards, patient portals, and other interoperability enablers.
  7. Monitor success metrics like data availability, care coordination efficiency, patient leakage, and clinician satisfaction. Identify areas needing optimization and continue enhancing standards adoption.
  8. Stay updated on new and emerging standards, certification criteria, and regulations. Maintain a proactive stance on advancing EHR functionality and interoperability.
  9. Engage regularly with clinicians and staff to gather feedback on optimized workflows, data exchange needs, and opportunities to further standardize EHR capabilities.
  10. Participate in industry groups and meetings focused on advancing interoperability and health data exchange through standards adoption.

Experience Interoperability with Calysta EMR

Doctor and Patient Consult

As a leading EHR platform designed specifically for aesthetic practices, Calysta EMR incorporates the latest functionality standards for seamless data exchange. By leveraging fast healthcare interoperability resources (FHIR) and integrating with industry terminology standards, Calysta enables out-of-the-box interoperability with other EHR systems, health information exchanges, and analytics tools.

Calysta's affordable pricing, aesthetic-focused features, and advanced interoperability empower aesthetic practices to unlock the full potential of EHRs. Schedule a demo to see Calysta's capabilities firsthand and achieve frictionless health data exchange for your practice today.

Related Posts