November 24, 2015

Insufficiencies in Standards for EHR Interoperability

Kris Gösser

Chief Marketing Officer

The good people in Congress recently asked ONC: When it comes to the nationwide roll-out of a connected health IT system, are we getting our 28 billion dollars’ worth? - HealthBlawg: Locked Down or Blocked Up? ONC Report on Health Information Blocking

Last month, at the request of Congressional leaders, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the report Electronic Health Records: Nonfederal Efforts to Help Achieve Health Information Interoperability, which reviews the attempts of non-federal entities to design an infrastructure that could lead to national interoperability for health data). The GAO report, based upon interviews with representatives of eighteen interoperability initiatives, found five preeminent challenges the industry faces with achieving true interoperability:

  1. Insufficiencies in health data standards
  2. Variation in state privacy rules
  3. Accurately matching patients’ health records
  4. Costs associated with interoperability
  5. The need for governance and trust among entities

With the total of eighteen interoperability initiatives, GAO reported that fifteen of the eighteen initiatives are attempting to address the insufficient standards necessary to achieving EHR interoperability. Stakeholders involved in healthcare’s adoption of interoperability are responding in various measures as each entity is taking a different approach to the challenges at hand.

In regards to the insufficient standards, it was acknowledged that the idiolect standardization of terminologies used in contrasting systems is necessitated. Most healthcare entities already execute this action via analytic software in union with their data warehouses. This challenge though seems to derive itself from the simple fact that standards are not explicit enough resulting in the inability to be interoperable. In order for systems to achieve interoperability, these EHR systems must adopt the same format and technologies when exchanging healthcare data so that receiving systems can ingest properly and feed into their designated structured input fields.

Look out for future posts exploring these five barriers to interoperability as reported by GAO, or subscribe to our blog to receive email notifications when new publications happen.

Further Reading:

  1. Why Interoperability?
  2. Open APIs Solve Lack of EHR Interoperability
  3. False Claims, Meaningful Use, and HIPAA Compliance: What’s the Connection?
tag Interoperability EHR