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Interoperability of Patient Apps report title
Standards and Regulatory Frameworks Workgroup: Improving Interoperability of Patient Apps with the Health IT Ecosystem

This report identifies opportunities for improving patient app interoperability to advance patient-centered clinical decision support. 

Developed by the AHRQ CDSiC Standards and Regulatory Frameworks Workgroup, this report identifies several opportunities for further advancement of patient-centered clinical decision support (PC CDS) standards to support the interoperability between patient apps and electronic health records (EHRs) and other health information technology (IT) systems.

Although clinicians are increasingly recommending and prescribing apps to patients to help manage clinical conditions, remaining challenges limit the clinical utility of these apps. Greater interoperability is needed between apps and EHRs to allow for patient data collected by apps to be integrated into clinician workflows and the broader health IT system. Without integration across systems and technologies, patient data collected by apps remains sequestered in the app, or in portals separate from clinician health IT systems and workflows. This separation can lead to increased time and cognitive burden for clinicians and inappropriate PC CDS guidance based on incomplete or outdated information.

About the Report

This report identifies key interoperability scenarios and current standards for patient app integration, as well as opportunities for further advancing the standards landscape to support the interoperability of patient apps with EHRs and health IT systems. These opportunities address three primary needs:

  1. Additional implementation and adoption of existing standards for patient app interoperability.
  2. Further modification of current standards to support PC CDS use cases.
  3. New implementation guides to support the consistent use of standards in this domain. This work will require a coordinated effort between app developers and EHR developers, alongside standards developers, Federal funders, health systems, clinicians, and patients and their caregivers.

How to Use the Report

Policymakers, EHR developers, app developers, device and wearable manufacturers, clinicians and health systems, CDS researchers, CDS content developers, health IT standards developers, payers, and patients and their caregivers can use this report to:

  • Visualize the flow of data across technologies in an interoperable ecosystem.
  • Understand five key patient app-EHR interoperability scenarios.
  • Learn about opportunities for advancing the standards landscape to support interoperability of patient apps with EHRs and health IT systems.

Suggested Citation: Boxwala AA, Desai PJ, Gordan JR, Leaphart D, Correa K, Richesson RL, Dullabh PM, and the CDSiC Standards and Regulatory Frameworks Workgroup. Improving Interoperability of Patient Apps With the Health IT Ecosystem. Prepared under Contract No. 75Q80120D00018. AHRQ Publication No. 23-0071. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; August 2023.