AEGIS invests a lot of resources in support of advancing interoperability of electronic health information. The AEGIS DIL provides an unparalleled platform for helping EHR vendors, exchanges, standards organizations, and certification bodies test for interoperability and conformance.
But there is one critical aspect of interoperability that no technology can fix – that is, the inertia of organizations who do not want to make their systems and data interoperable.
I was unpleasantly surprised recently when an extended family member was admitted to the ICU of a regional hospital for treatment of the same problem that had already happened earlier this year. After three days in the hospital, speaking to my relative’s doctor, I asked if he had received the records from the relative’s earlier hospital stay in a neighboring town served by a very large competing hospital system. He said he had not, but they would request the information. When I spoke to the ICU nurse about the same topic the next day, he said they were waiting in the fax to come through.
So I asked, “Does this mean you do not exchange health records electronically with the other health system?” He laughed and said, “No – they use Epic, we use Cerner – and the two systems can’t talk to each other. So we call over there and then wait for faxes to come through, or they call us when they need our records.” As you can imagine, knowing what I know about electronic health information exchange and all that AEGIS is doing to support it, this was extremely frustrating news to hear.
As the industry prepares for Health IT Week next week, a question I have for our industry and government peers is, what’s taking so long?
I read a lot of articles and hear a lot of talks about why interoperability is hard – sometimes even claims that it’s virtually impossible. But the reality is, as AEGIS, some EHR vendors, health information exchanges like the eHealth Exchange, standards bodies like HL7, and HHS ONC are demonstrating, interoperability is possible today.
We have the way – do we have the will? Yes? Then why is it taking so long?