[CM: Interoperability is the ability of two or more systems or system objects to exchange information in such a wy as to mutually understand and use the information that been exchanged. (The Reference Model for Open Distributed Processing (RM-ODP))]
Walker J, Pan E, Johnston D, Adler-Milstein J, Bates D, Middleton B. The Value Of Health Care Information Exchange And Interoperability. (Health Affairs. Web Exclusive, January 19, 2005) define four levels of interoperability, thus:
- Level 1: Nonelectronic data—no use of IT to share information (examples: mail, telephone).
- Level 2: Machinetransportable data—transmission of nonstandardized information via basic IT; information within the document cannot be electronically manipulated (examples: fax or personal computer [PC]–based exchange of scanned documents, pictures, or portable document format [PDF] files).
- Level 3: Machine-organizable data—transmission of structured messages containing nonstandardized data; requires interfaces that can translate incoming data from the sending organization’s vocabulary to the receiving organization’s vocabulary; usually results in imperfect translations because of vocabularies’ incompatible levels of detail (examples: e-mail of free text, or PC-based exchange of files in incompatible/proprietary file formats, HL-7 messages).
- Level 4: Machine-interpretable data—transmission of structured messages containing standardized and coded data; idealized state in which all systems exchange information using the same formats and vocabularies (examples: automated exchange of coded results from an external lab into a provider’s EMR, automated exchange of a patient’s “problem list”).
In the US, the OMB has adopted similar levels with slightly modified names:
- Level 1: Nonelectronic data
- Level 2: Unstructured, viewable electronic data
- Level 3: Structured, viewable electronic data
- Level 4: Computable electronic data
--Jay Lyle 16:07, 23 February 2012 (EST)