The Pains of Healthcare Data Interoperability Described First Hand

Posted on August 12, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and 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 was hit by this comment made by Ciro on a LinkedIn group that I’m apart of (You can find the blog network on LinkedIn if you want to join).

My patients are discharged from hospitals and are seen in different offices. I have no clue what changes have been made when I open the patient’s record in my emr. We have to call to have notes faxed to us all the time. Then we scan the documents into the emr and attach it to the patient record as a tif file. If a patient has a reaction to a medication and is seen at urgent care facility, I will not know about it unless the patient tells me. There is no integrity in my emr data since changes are made all the time. Our hospital recently spent millions on a emr that does not integrate with any outpatient emr. Where is the data exchanger and who deploys it? What button is clicked to make this happen!

My practice is currently changing its emr. We are paying big bucks for partial data migration. All the assurances we had about data portability when we purchased our original emr were exaggerated to make a sale.

Industry should have standards. In construction there are 2×4 ‘s , not 2×3.5 ‘s. Government should not impinge on privacy and free trade but they absolutely have a key role in creating standards that ensure safety and promote growth in industry.

I have 3 takeaways from Ciro’s comments.

1. The Pain of NO Healthcare Data Exchange – I can’t remember ever reading a first hand account that so aptly described the pains a doctor faces in trying to care for a patient and not being able to get the data they need to care for the patient properly. We need more stories like this that describe the pains of getting data exchanged in healthcare. Doctors need to recognize these pains and broadcast it far and wide. Otherwise, we’re not going to see any real significant movement. Patients can join in the chorus as well.

2. Healthcare Data Exchange Is Still Far Away – “Our hospital recently spent millions on a emr that does not integrate with any outpatient emr.” Doesn’t that comment just sting you to the core? If it doesn’t you’re probably the one that collected the million dollar checks from the hospital. I’m not sure what to say about the CIO that purchased a system that wouldn’t integrate with other EHR software.

3. Govenment’s Missed Opportunity – The last paragraph of Ciro’s comments talks about how the US government should have helped create a standard for data exchange. I still believe the EHR incentive money should be spent on establishing this standard and rewarding use of the standard. It’s probably too late now.

Keep the stories of terrible experiences exchanging healthcare data coming. I love to learn from first hand experiences. So, send them over and I’ll be sure to get your stories out and heard. Examples of great electronic healthcare data exchange would be welcome too. Few things motivate and gets things accomplished as much as pain and jealousy.