ONC is More Focused on HIE than EMR

Posted on July 3, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I can’t remember where I heard or read this, but I remember that when I did it stuck with me and I knew I had to write about it. Here’s the comment someone made (sorry I can’t attribute it properly):

Frankly, ONC is more focused on info exchange than EMR in the long run.

That’s a pretty strong statement, and one I really can’t argue against. In fact, if ONC didn’t have $36 billion out there hanging on the terms meaningful use of a certified EHR, they’d probably be doing even more with HIE and less with EHR.

I think ONC should actually be applauded for many of the health information exchange initiatives that it’s been pushing forward. I think that the Direct Project (which I broadly include in health information exchange) is one of the most exciting things in healthcare exchange right now and ONC should take a lot of credit for making it happen. I’m still waiting for my friends who happen to be physicians to talk to me about using direct project. Then, I’ll know it’s really gone mainstream, but I think it shows such promise that one day they will be telling me about it.

Yes, as most of you know, I still somewhat begrudgingly wish that the EHR incentive money would have gone towards exchange of healthcare information instead of EHR. It would have incentivized something that doesn’t have natural physician incentives to adopt. Plus, an EHR would have been essential to really exchanging information if the “healthcare data exchange stimulus” money was executed properly. Then, market dynamics would determine EHR adoption to a much larger extent. Water under a bridge it seems, but maybe someone at ONC could scrape some money together to prove me wrong.

With all of that said, I think ONC wants the healthcare information flowing. They see EHR as a step towards that end, but that’s the end goal. We’ll just see if they have the tools and resources needed to see it through a midst all the other healthcare IT distractions.