Congress is its own roadblock to interoperability

Marla Durben Hirsch | Fierce EMR | April 8, 2015

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has received a large number of comments on its draft interoperability road map. Some commenters have praised it; others have offered criticisms. Yet, we can't ignore that ONC is not alone at the interoperability drawing board. Both the CommonWell Health Alliance and Carequality, Healtheway's interoperability initiative, are forging ahead with their own initiatives. There also are the health information exchanges, with their different rules, operating models and governance structures.

Micky Tripathi, CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, remarked during this week's Health IT Policy Committee meeting that the different data sharing arrangements--including CommonWell and Healtheway--have been resolving issues in different ways. These different approaches could be a challenge to interoperability if they don't mesh together.

But the biggest barrier to interoperability may be the inability to match a patient's records. And that takes us to the great Congressional interoperability disconnect. Congress has blasted ONC about the lack of interoperability between provider EHRs on several occasions; one legislator called it a "fraud" on taxpayers. The Omnibus bill, passed in December, requires ONC to submit a report regarding interoperability challenges and on those who engage in "information blocking."...