In order to achieve true interoperability, patients' need for better data sharing must come before the interests of providers, vendors and regulators.
Seamless interoperability. It's part of the dream for how electronic health records will improve healthcare, since it would let caregivers know a patient's history wherever that person is treated. In reality, what many CIOs, clinicians and patients deal with is a patchwork of data standards, vendor conflicts, state laws and federal regulations that sharply limit data sharing.
In practical terms, lack of interoperability means it's sometimes difficult for Mrs. Jones' digital records to move from her doctor's office-based EHR to a nearby hospital when she's admitted for gallbladder surgery.
Among the obstacles preventing true interoperability: lack of cooperation among EHR vendors, state laws that block access to patient data and financially unstable health information exchanges. Clearing these hurdles is going to require some creative thinking, vendor cooperation and the political willpower to put patients' needs ahead of vested interests.
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