SeeSaw Labs

What is CCDA? Everything Your Product Team Needs to Know

Within the healthcare industry, interoperability, or the ability of computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information, is of the utmost importance. It is imperative that patient data and records are able to flow freely between multiple providers, payors, and patients. In order to facilitate this process, CCDA, or Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture, was introduced as the standard for generating clinical documents. 

So, why is it important for product teams to know about this standard? Understanding the ways in which your software product idea can integrate into other systems will improve efficiency and function while providing a competitive advantage in the industry. 

What is CCDA? 

According to the official ONC website, a CCDA document is an Extensible Markup Language (XML) document summarizing current and pertinent historical information about an individual patient’s health care record at a given facility. Its primary function is to standardize the content and structure for clinical care summaries. 

To better understand the function of C-CDA, let’s start by diving into just CDA, without the “C”onsolidated part. CDA or Clinical Document Architecture, is a popular markup standard for electronic healthcare documentation. Each time a patient has a visit to a healthcare provider, a separate document is generated following this CDA format. Now, when you think of how many visits an individual has to make throughout their lifetime, there could be hundreds of these documents to exchange and sift through. As a result, CDA became known for having many variations, increasing the difficulty of exchanging these documents. 

In an effort to resolve this issue and improve interoperability within the healthcare industry, C-CDA emerged with stricter rules for the structure, encoding, and semantics of clinical documents of CDA documents. 

Benefits of CCDA

CCDA is a universal sharable health format that all certified EHR vendors can read and write, making electronic health records more easily exchangeable. Before CCDA, providers were put in a frenzy each time they tried to implement a specific clinical document. CCDA structure provides an easy exchange model for medical documents with better readability and point to point connection. 

CCDA benefits include: 

  • Facilitate user-friendly readable templates and information 
  • Allow caregivers to know where to go for the information they are specifically looking for 
  • Supports video and audio interoperability between systems 
  • Supports the exchange of clinical documents between those involved in the care of a patient.
  • Supports the re-use of clinical data for public health reporting, quality monitoring, patient safety and clinical trials.
  • Can be reused in multiple applications.
  • CCDA is a full-blown CDA, providing methodology for the templates in your electronic health record software.
  • Accommodates all medical documents, and may include binary data and other document types.

Limitations of CCDA

While they’ve helped to standardize EHR documentation, CCDA documents still have a reputation for being potentially hard to work with and hard to search. In fact, CCDA is being phased out for a newer format, FHIR, but it still remains highly popular among the healthcare industry. You cannot ignore it! 

Why is CCDA important for product teams to know about? 

CCDA format is important for product teams to grasp in order to formulate a product idea and optimize its functionality. You need to know what ways your software can integrate with other systems in the industry and how it will consume and exchange data within those systems. 

CCDA is essentially the means for which your product can communicate with these other integrations, as it is the most popular way for healthcare products to communicate with each other. Having your software comply with the CCDA format is a must when it comes to the healthcare industry.