Sunday, April 19, 2015


Interoperability is the fancy word used to describe the ability of computers containing electronic medical records (EHRs) to communicate with one another.

Interoperability is one of the main potential benefits of EHRs.  Making a patient’s medical information available to every doctor and hospital would be an enormous boon and make better care possible at lower cost.         

According to the April 13 issue of Modern Healthcare, some $29 billion has been spent under the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) to promote the development of EHRs, a program that has emphasized interoperability.  Eleven years ago, President George W. Bush created the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology with a mandate to implement a “nationwide…interoperable health information technology infrastructure.”  But according to a survey conducted by the publication, only 11% of respondents claimed to have routine interoperability across the country – presumably with the rest of the 11%.  17% said they had interoperability within their individual states.

The April 17 issue of the New York Times carried an editorial on the subject, blaming the lack of interoperability on “transfers being blocked by developers of health information technology or greedy medical centers that refuse to send records to rival providers.”

It all seems to be a part of the whole EHR debacle.  In concept, the situation doesn’t seem to me to be all that complex.  To achieve interoperability, computers containing EHRs either have to be able to talk to each other or they have to be able to talk with a computer or a few computers that can talk to all of them.  That means there has to be some level of commonality among the EHR programs and once the basic structure is decided upon, that commonality would be defined and required to be included in all EHR programs and providers required to use it.

Maybe there is a good reason why that hasn’t been done, but I can’t imagine what it is.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

FREE counter and Web statistics from sitetracker.com