Inside The Struggle For Electronic Health Record Interoperability

Greg Otto | FedScoop | August 20, 2014

It is a growing issue everywhere from the examination table in your physician’s office to your hospital system’s database to the halls of Capitol Hill. The health care system at large is trying to move your health record off of a paper chart and into the digital space. Furthermore, your electronic health record (or EHR in health care parlance) should be able to to freely move between your physician to your hospital or anywhere crucial in between. Only that increasingly isn’t the case.

Over the past few months, stories have popped up chronicling doctors’, clinicians’ or other health care providers’ headaches moving to and/or accessing EHRs. The chorus of complaints has led the Senate Appropriations Committee to submit language in a draft bill that calls for a report from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) on what “the challenges and barriers” are to EHR interoperability.” Whatever challenges and barriers there are, it is clear both hospitals and office-based physicians are struggling to meet HHS’ Meaningful Use Criteria, which include interoperability guidelines.

In a study published in the September 2014 issue of Health Affairs, a number of analysts — including some working for ONC — found that while the rates of hospitals adopting basic EHRs continue to rise, only 5.8 percent of hospitals surveyed were able to meet all of 16 core objectives put forth in HHS’ Meaningful Use Criteria. The areas in which hospitals were most lacking were providing patients with the ability to view and download their information and sending care summaries between care settings...