HIT Think Why Interoperability Will Get Worse Before It Gets Better

Steve Meurer | Health Data Management | May 16, 2017

We hear the same thing from the health IT community every year: We’re committed to enabling seamless health data sharing. It’s the industry’s perennial commitment that electronic health records (EHRs) will soon share patient data across different platforms to ensure coordinated, high-quality care. Walls will come down in the name of better patient outcomes. Unfortunately, none of this is going to happen any time soon. In fact, I predict our industry’s struggle with interoperability will get worse before it gets better. Here are three reasons why:

There are too many competing siloed solutions. There are many EHRs and other data analytic tools in the market, each with countless one-off solutions being built around their insular, proprietary systems. From supporting revenue cycle management to care coordination and virtual visits, these vendors are all vying to become the superior “Swiss Army Knife,” with little thought of integrating with other solution providers. Despite standardization initiatives—as this trend continues—the current health IT landscape is getting more, not less, fragmented.

There is no economic incentive to make systems talk. This is an elephant in the room that few seem willing to acknowledge. While there’s no question that sharing patient data with outside providers is the right thing to do, we have to recognize that it’s an added cost for already cost-sensitive health systems. On top of that, data analytics and EHR companies have an economic incentive to keep customers locked into their proprietary platforms and databases. Until there is a clear ROI for opening up data and investing in integration, any commitment to interoperability will remain a well-meaning slogan...