Multiple technologies have been implemented over the last decade in part to eliminate the paper silos that plagued health care, negatively affecting efficiency and effectiveness. The result is technology-based silos in which different technologies do not always communicate, requiring clinicians to collect, and sometimes search for, relevant data from disparate systems to analyze and use. Because of these technology silos, the concept of interoperability finally is becoming part of the everyday lexicon in health care.

Interoperability refers to “the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged.” For nurses, this concept requires the bidirectional exchange of information combined with the usefulness of that information. The ability to electronically exchange information can be viewed as technical, whereas the ability to use the electronically exchanged information can be viewed as clinical; the...

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