According to an announcement by the Obama administration this week, major players such as Allscripts, Cerner Corp., Athenahealth, Meditech, and Epic Systems Corp. have said that they will work closely to improve interoperability in their electronic health record (EHR) systems. The announcement from HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell came at the recent Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society convention, which was held in Las Vegas.
What’s remarkable about this development is that the 17 vendors that have made the interoperability commitment currently provide healthcare IT and EHR systems and support to a whopping 90% of American hospitals. With this commitment, the companies said that their ultimate goal is to make it easier for patients in the United States to easily access and use their health-related records.
There are three major points on which the leading vendors have agreed:
- The companies would take adequate measures to ensure that patients are able to access their EHRs more easily and also, if the needed arises, transfer this data to another service provider or user. In short, enabling a user to transfer their data anywhere they want will be deemed important henceforth.
- Next, the group also committed to help their counterparts share healthcare information of individual users if directed or permitted by federal laws. Blocking healthcare records would likely be a thing of the past with this move. In the past, obstacles such as high fees or legal arrangements that restricted data transfer were detrimental to such an exchange.
- The third important development was that the group said it would stay committed to implementing applicable national interoperability standards. This would also likely involve the development of standardized applications so consumers could easily access data.