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    The lingering challenge of healthcare interoperability

     

    Stack said he thinks the federal government is also an obstacle to reaching interoperability. He explained that EHR vendors developed their software products to meet the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid’s (CMS’) Meaningful Use certification requirements but it didn’t do anything to promote interoperability.

    “What we have to do is restore a marketplace where those of us who are purchasing these tools have more leverage and more power to tailor the technologies,” he said.

    Progress is being made on that front.

    For example, the Center for Medical Interoperability is pulling together stakeholders in an effort to bring about plug-and-play interoperability.

    Major EHR vendors and some 30 large healthcare providers also came together last October at the KLAS Keystone Summit and agreed to establish measurements of interoperability performance across EHR systems.

    Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in February announced that the major EHR vendors, the country’s five largest private healthcare systems and more than a dozen professional associations and stakeholder groups pledged to implement three core commitments to improve the flow of health information to consumers and healthcare providers. Those core commitments center on consumer access, no information blocking and national interoperability standards.And there’s CommonWell Health Alliance, a nonprofit association of health IT companies that’s working together to create universal access to health data nationwide. It aims to create ad execute a vendor-neutral platform that allows for this data exchange.

    Clinicians themselves, usually in conjunction with the healthcare systems with which they’re affiliated, are also moving forward.

    “Physicians are increasingly working in large healthcare systems with relatively mature electronic health records. These systems are working with their EHR vendors to implement the nationwide interoperability roadmap as quickly as they can,” said Sam Weir, MD, a national leader in medical informatics and lead informatics physician at UNC Health Care, a position in which he ensures that medical technology supports patients in their ability to access medical care.

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