Interoperability: Feds force everyone to play nicely in the sandbox

There’s usually a “buzz” at conferences around whatever the top one or two trending hot topics are but it was lacking at AHIMA in New Orleans during the last days of September.

NEMT CEO Linda Sullivan

Certainly preoccupation with the launch of ICD-10 on the last day of the conference was a contributing factor.  I think we’re also are in a lull of new initiatives.  The vast majority of healthcare systems have an EHR in place and interoperability is the next hurdle.  I recently became aware of “data blocking.” ONC published a report to Congress in April of this year stating “The purpose of these efforts is to enable an interoperable learning health system—one in which electronic health information is available and can be securely and efficiently shared, when and where it is needed, to support patient-centered care, enhance health care quality and efficiency, and advance research and public health.”

It goes on “While many stakeholders are committed to achieving this vision, current economic and market conditions create business incentives for some persons and entities to exercise control over electronic health information in ways that unreasonably limit its availability and use.

Indeed, complaints and other evidence described in this report suggest that some persons and entities are interfering with the exchange or use of electronic health information in ways that frustrate the goals of the HITECH Act and undermine broader health care reforms. These concerns likely will become more pronounced as both expectations and the technological capabilities for electronic health information exchange continue to evolve and mature.”

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 instructs ONC to “de-certify” any previously certified product that is shown to block health information exchange.  The concept of the EHR vendors not playing nicely in the sandbox with other healthcare software platforms is being addressed legislatively.  It’s a good next step in facilitating interoperability.





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