I read an interesting article in the WSJ today on a “boost” that’s coming to interoperability.

The second sentence in the article really hit the salient point.

Thanks in part to $27 billion in federal funds approved in 2009 to incentivize their use, electronic records have been increasingly adopted in health care. But hospitals and doctors’ offices still experience widespread conflicts when trying to exchange patient data among different systems with incompatible technology.

How can $27 billion have achieved so little?  Well, giving 50% of the money to Epic certainly didn’t help (see the 2014 RAND study entitled “Redirecting Innovation to Decrease Spending and Increase Value in U.S. Health Care“)  That was a travesty folks.  I don’t like to get political in my blog, but I can think of no other government program that has been so brazenly anti-competitive.

Point made.  Let’s move on.

There is a great deal of frustration within the industry about standards and interoperability.  While at the HL7 WGM in San Antonio I spoke to many of my peers and we discussed the current drive to “focus” standards through industry consortia.  As you might imagine, this has varying degrees of popularity with the standards geeks.  The hardcode guys hate the idea of the a “select” group of industry participants moving on their own and somewhat resent the push from the “Johnny come lately’s” who have hopped on the bandwagon. The moderates (of which I am one) see value but are concerned about undue influence.

I wonder in part if the move to industry consortia comes from the fact that federal health funding for interoperability is on the decline.  In the latest government appropriation OCR got a grand total of five million dollars to advance interoperability – clearly a ridiculous amount for the work they need to do to achieve on their ten year vision.  There is considerable talk in Washington about interoperability, but unfortunately in the wake of Meaningful Use it’s hard to get traction.

Politics aside, how many of these industry consortia do we really need?  When you consider that there are distinct camps (Epic vs Cerner/McKesson) that lead to the formation of each organization things really start to unravel.

Imagine if we could get these guys to work with each other?

Oh, wait .. that’s the problem isn’t it?

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