Digital data are anticipated to transform medicine. However, most of today's medical data lack interoperability: hidden in isolated databases, incompatible systems and proprietary software, the data are difficult to exchange, analyze, and interpret. This slows down medical progress, as technologies that rely on these data - artificial intelligence, big data or mobile applications - cannot be used to their full potential. In this article, we argue that interoperability is a prerequisite for the digital innovations envisioned for future medicine. We focus on four areas where interoperable data and IT systems are particularly important: (1) artificial intelligence and big data; (2) medical communication; (3) research; and (4) international cooperation. We discuss how interoperability can facilitate digital transformation in these areas to improve the health and well-being of patients worldwide.
Keywords: Health care; Health policy.