I’ve watched the discussion around information blocking in healthcare with a lot of interest. I’ve seen many people (including the government) talk about how information blocking is a major issue in healthcare and that we need to do something to solve the problem of information blocking. I’ve read other organizations who have searched for information blocking and say they can’t find it and that people are overstating the issue of information blocking.
I do think that some people overstate how big of an issue information blocking is, but I know that it’s a problem. Sometimes the information blocking is done purposefully, but other times it’s happening without much thought as to why they should or shouldn’t take part in information sharing.
As I’ve watched this discussion evolve and the drive towards interoperability I’ve realized that what’s happening in interoperability today could very well be the easiest and most legal form of information blocking that exists: charge for the information.
When I look into the future of information sharing, I can see EHR vendors salivating at these new found revenue streams associated with data sharing. Sure, it will only be pennies or fractions of a penny to share each record. However, when you spread that across millions and millions of records those fractions of a penny really start to add up.
When I look at the interoperability options that are being built today, these options are going to be able to charge for access to this data in a very granular way. All the data sharing is easily tracked and if it’s being tracked it can easily be charged for. I expect large healthcare organizations are going to have to start creating entire budgets dedicated to the cost of interoperability.
Once this happens smaller healthcare organizations are going to be blocked out of accessing the data. However, they won’t be literally blocked out of accessing the data like they are now. Instead, they’ll have access to the data, but the cost to access the data will be so much that they’ll be unable to access the data due to the high costs.
If you’re someone who’s a fan of information blocking, this is the perfect solution. No one can tell you that they couldn’t get access to the data, because they could get access to the data. All they had to do was pay for it. The fact that they couldn’t afford to access the data is a different issue. I expect this day will come sooner than we think.