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How Does Interoperability Affect Technology Adoption in Healthcare? – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on September 25, 2018 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.

We’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 9/28 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Niko Skievaski @niko_ski from @redox.

In her opening remarks at the 2nd ONC Interoperability Forum, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma set the goal of eliminating the use of fax machines in healthcare by 2020. It’s true – fax is still the most common form of communication among providers for transmission of medical records, test results, instructions, and treatment regimens all thanks to its insusceptibility to hacking. While the rest of the world is embracing digitalization and the benefits it has brought us, healthcare seemed a bit reluctant about moving on. Fax or other paper-based records are largely inconvenient and created barriers to information exchange.

In the era of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we’re generating data in an unbelievable speed – more information to process, exchange and analyze, posing bigger challenges for snail-paced interoperability progress. Tech giants see this lack of interoperability as a perfect opportunity to enter healthcare and disrupt the “broken” industry. Apple Health is promoting open API for iOS users to own their health data; Amazon’s working with multiple healthcare organizations to build its own system; and the recent interoperability pledge by the six big companies is set to transform healthcare data infrastructure.

Coming from an outsider perspective, these companies are familiar with the user authorization approach. When you sign in to an app with your Google account, you’ll be asked to grant the app access to your information through an authentication protocol called OAuth 2.0. Ideally, this is the vision for healthcare data use in the future.

But the existing healthcare data infrastructure, in the meantime, is drastically different from the one these tech giants are familiar with. Perhaps a more realistic, pragmatic approach is to work with the established stakeholders in healthcare, particularly the big EHR vendors, instead of bringing in a whole new system to solve interoperability.

Join us for this week’s #HITsm chat to discuss interoperability’s impact on technology adoption in healthcare and share your opinions on what stakeholders need to do to improve interoperability and accelerate technology adoption.

Topics for this week’s #HITsm Chat:
T1: What are the biggest barriers to technology adoption in healthcare? #HITsm

T2: Is interoperability more challenging now with more data generated by technologies such as AI? #HITsm

T3: Will patient-authorized API access bring fundamental changes to interoperability? #HITsm

T4: How will tech giants’ move into healthcare impact interoperability? #HITsm

T5: What needs to be done by the established stakeholders in healthcare, e.g. EHR vendors, to solve interoperability? #HITsm

Bonus: What do you want as a patient when it comes to interoperability? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
10/5 – Medication Compliance & Drug Monitoring
Hosted by Joy Rios (@askjoyrios) and Robin Roberts (@rrobertsehealth)

10/12 – TBD
Hosted by Janet Kennedy (@getsocialhealth) and Carol Bush (@TheSocialNurse) from the Healthcare Marketing Network

We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always, let us know if you’d like to host a future #HITsm chat or if you know someone you think we should invite to host.

If you’re searching for the latest #HITsm chat, you can always find the latest #HITsm chat and schedule of chats here.

Open Source Software and the Path to EHR Heaven (Part 2 of 2)

Posted on September 20, 2018 I Written By

Andy Oram is an editor at O'Reilly Media, a highly respected book publisher and technology information provider. An employee of the company since 1992, Andy currently specializes in open source, software engineering, and health IT, but his editorial output has ranged from a legal guide covering intellectual property to a graphic novel about teenage hackers. His articles have appeared often on EMR & EHR and other blogs in the health IT space. Andy also writes often for O'Reilly's Radar site (http://oreilly.com/) and other publications on policy issues related to the Internet and on trends affecting technical innovation and its effects on society. Print publications where his work has appeared include The Economist, Communications of the ACM, Copyright World, the Journal of Information Technology & Politics, Vanguardia Dossier, and Internet Law and Business. Conferences where he has presented talks include O'Reilly's Open Source Convention, FISL (Brazil), FOSDEM, and DebConf.

The previous segment of this article explained the challenges faced by health care organizations and suggested two ways they could be solved through free and open source software. We’ll finish the exploration in this segment of the article.

Situational awareness would reduce alert fatigue and catch errors

Difficult EHR interfaces are probably the second most frustrating aspect of being a doctor today: the first prize goes to the EHR’s inability to understand and adapt to the clinician’s workflow and environment. This is why the workplace redounds with beeps and belches from EHRs all day, causing alert fatigue and drowning out truly serious notifications. Stupid EHRs have an even subtler and often overlooked effect: when regulators or administrators require data for quality or public health purposes, the EHR is often “upgraded” with an extra field that the doctor has to fill in manually, instead of doing what computers do best and automatically replicating data that is already in the record. When doctors complain about the time they waste in the EHR, they often blame the regulators or the interface instead of placing their finger on the true culprit, which is the lack of awareness in the EHR.

Open source can ease these problems in several ways. First, the customizability outlined in the first section of this article allows savvy users to adapt it to their situations. Second, the interoperability from the previous section makes it easier to feed in information from other parts of the hospital or patient environment, and to hook in analytics that make sense of that information.

Enhancements from outside sources could be plugged in

The modularity of open source makes it easier to offer open platforms. This could lead to marketplaces for EHR enhancements, a long-time goal of the open SMART standard. Certainly, there would have to be controls for the sake of safety: an administrator, for instance, could limit downloads to carefully vetted software packages.

At best, storage and interface in an EHR would be decoupled in separate modules. Experts at storage could optimize it to improve access time and develop new options, such as new types of filtering. At the same time, developers could suggest new interfaces so that users can have any type of dashboard, alerting system, data entry forms, or other access they want.

Bugs could be fixed expeditiously

Customers of proprietary software remain at the mercy of the vendors. I worked in one computer company that depended on a very subtle feature from our supplier that turned out not to work as advertised. Our niche market, real-time computing, needed that feature to achieve the performance we promised customers, but it turned out that no other company needed it. The supplier admitted the feature was broken but told us point-blank that they had no plans to fix it. Our product failed in the marketplace, for that reason along with others.

Other software users suffer because proprietary vendors shift their market focus or for other reasons–even going out of business.

Free and open source software never ossifies, so long as users want it. Anyone can hire a developer to fix a bug. Furthermore, the company fixing it usually feeds the fix back into the core project because they want it to be propagated to future versions of the software. Thus, the fixes are tested, hardened, and offered to all users.

What free and open source tools are available?

Numerous free and open source EHRs have been developed, and some are in widespread use. Most famously is VistA, the software created at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and used also by the Indian Health Service and other government agencies, has a community chaperone and has been adopted by the country of Jordan. VistA was considered by the Department of Defense as well, but ultimately rejected because the department didn’t want to invest in adding some missing features.

Another free software EHR, OpenMRS, supports health care in Kenya, Haiti, and elsewhere. OpenEMR is also deployed internationally.

What free and open source software has accomplished in these settings is just a hint of what it can do for health care across the board. The problem holding back open source is simple neglect: as VistA’s experience with the DoD showed, institutions are unwilling to support open source, even through they will pay 10 or 100 times as much on substandard proprietary software. Open Health Tools, covered in the article I just linked to, is one of several organizations that shriveled up and disappeared for lack of support. Some organizations gladly hop on for a free ride, using the software without contributing either funds or code. Others just ignore open source software, even though that means their own death: three hospitals have recently declared bankruptcy after installing proprietary EHRs. Although the article focuses on the up-front costs of installing the EHRs, I believe the real fatal blow was the inability of the EHRs to support efficient, streamlined health care services.

We need open source EHRs not just to reduce health care costs, but to transform health. But first, we need a vision of EHR heaven. I hope this article has taken us at least into the clouds.

Open Source Software and the Path to EHR Heaven (Part 1 of 2)

Posted on September 19, 2018 I Written By

Andy Oram is an editor at O'Reilly Media, a highly respected book publisher and technology information provider. An employee of the company since 1992, Andy currently specializes in open source, software engineering, and health IT, but his editorial output has ranged from a legal guide covering intellectual property to a graphic novel about teenage hackers. His articles have appeared often on EMR & EHR and other blogs in the health IT space. Andy also writes often for O'Reilly's Radar site (http://oreilly.com/) and other publications on policy issues related to the Internet and on trends affecting technical innovation and its effects on society. Print publications where his work has appeared include The Economist, Communications of the ACM, Copyright World, the Journal of Information Technology & Politics, Vanguardia Dossier, and Internet Law and Business. Conferences where he has presented talks include O'Reilly's Open Source Convention, FISL (Brazil), FOSDEM, and DebConf.

Do you feel your electronic health record (EHR) is heaven or hell? The vast majority of clinicians–and many patients, too, who interact with the EHR through a web portal–see it as the latter. In this article, I’ll describe an EHR heaven and how free and open source software can contribute to it. But first an old joke (which I have adapted slightly).

A salesman for an EHR vendor dies and goes before the Pearly Gates. Saint Peter asks him, “Would you like to go to heaven or hell?”

Surprised, the salesman says, “I didn’t know I had a choice.”

Saint Peter suggests, “How about this. We’ll show you heaven and hell, and then you can decide.”

“Sounds fair,” says the EHR salesman.

First they take him to heaven. People wearing white robes are strumming harps and singing hymns, and it goes on for a long time, till they take him away.

Next they take him to hell. And it’s really cool! People are clinking wine glasses together and chatting about amusing topics around the pool.

When the EHR salesman gets back to the Pearly Gates, he says to Saint Peter, “You know, this sounds really strange, but I choose hell.”

Immediately comes a clap of thunder. The salesman is in a fiery pit being prodded with pitchforks by dreadful demons.

“Wait!” he cries out. “This is not the hell I saw!”

One of the demons answers, “They must have shown you the demo.”

Most hospitals and clinicians are currently in EHR hell–one they have freely chosen, and one paid for partly by government Meaningful Use reimbursements. So we all know what EHR hell look like. What would EHR heaven be? And how does free and open source software enable it? The following sections of this article list the traits I think clinicians would like to see.

Interfaces could be easily replaced and customized

The greatest achievement of the open source movement, in my opinion, has been to strike an ideal balance between “let a hundred flowers bloom” experimentation and choosing the best option to advance the field. A healthy open source project encourages branching, which lets any individual or team with the required expertise change a product to their heart’s content. Users can then try out different versions, and a central committee vets the changes to decide which version is most robust.

Furthermore, modularization on various levels (programming modules, hooks, compile-time options, configuration tools) allows multiple versions to co-exist, each user choosing the options right for their environment. Open source software tends to be modular for several reasons, notably because it is developed by many different individuals and teams who want control over their small parts of the system.

With easy customization, a hospital or clinic can mandate that certain items be highlighted and that safe workflow rules be followed when entering or retrieving data. But the institution can also offer leeway for individual clinicians and patients to arrange a dashboard, color scheme, or other aspect of the environment to their liking.

Many of the enablers for this kind of agile, user-friendly programming are technical. Modularity is built into programming languages, while branching is standard in version control systems. So why can’t proprietary vendors do what open source communities routinely do? A few actually do, but most are constrained in ways that prevent such flexibility, especially in electronic health records:

  • Most vendors are dragging out the lifetime of nearly 40-year old technology, with brittle languages and tools that put insurmountable barriers in the way of agile work styles. They are also stuck with monolithic systems instead of modular ones.
  • The vendors’ business model depends on this monolithic control. To unbundle components, allow mix-and-match installations, and allow third parties to plug in new features would challenge the prices they charge.
  • The vendors are fundamentally unprepared for empowered users. They may vet features with clinically trained consultants and do market research, but handling power over the system to users is not in their DNA.

Data could be exchanged in a standard format without complex transformations

Data sharing is the lifeblood of modern computing; you can’t get much done on a single computer anymore. Data sharing lies behind new technologies ranging from the Internet of Things to real-time ad generation (the reason you’ll see a link to an article about “Fourteen celebrities who passed out drunk in public” when you’re trying to read a serious article about health IT). But it’s so rare in health care–where it’s uniquely known as “interoperability”–that every year, reformers call it the most critical goal for health IT, and the Office of the National Coordinator has repeatedly narrowed its Meaningful Use and related criteria to emphasize interoperability.

Open source software can share data with other systems as a matter of course. Data formats are simple, often text-based, and defined in the code in easy-to-find ways. Open source programmers, freed from the pressures on proprietary developers to reinvent wheels and set themselves apart from competitors, like to copy existing data formats. As a stark example of open source’s advantages, consider the most recent version of the Open Document Format, used by LibreOffice and other office suites. It defines an entire office suite in 104 pages. How big is the standards document for the Microsoft OOXML format, offering roughly equivalent functionality? Currently, 6,755 pages–and many observers say even that is incomplete. In short, open source is consistently the right choice for data exchange.

What would the adoption of open source do to improve health care, given that it would solve the interoperability problem? Records could be stored in the cloud–hopefully under patient control–and released to any facility treating the patient. Research would blossom, and researchers could share data as allowed by patients. Analytical services could be plugged in to produce new insights about disease and treatment from the records of millions of people. Perhaps interoperability could also contribute to solving the notorious patient matching problem–but that’s a complicated issue that I have discussed elsewhere, touching on privacy issues and user control outside the scope of this article.

The next segment of this article will list three more benefits of free and open source software, along with an assessment of its current and future prospects.

Healthcare Identity and Interoperability – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on March 21, 2018 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.

We’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 3/23 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Julie Maas (@JulieWMaas) from EMR Direct on the topic of “Healthcare Identity and Interoperability”.

There is a lot of discussion about healthcare identity in the industry recently, since:

  • Patient data is now available via public APIs from Health IT vendors that are moving into production with 2015 Edition compliant software
  • Patient matching problems persist, with no national identifier on the horizon
  • New NIST 800-63-3 identity proofing requirements and GDPR are coming onto the scene
  • Now even Jared Kushner is demanding patient access to data
  • Apple and Google are starting to take healthcare data seriously and a new class of third party “Client App” developers, managing health data, is emerging
  • TEFCA

All health data managed by healthcare providers carries legal (both federal and state) restrictions about who can access it. Data holders want to be sure they are making health data available to the right patients (who have rights to that data or have been made an authorized patient representative) and to the right providers and payers (certain assertions simplify this).  Initiatives like TEFCA and consumer-mediated exchange and the underlying technologies they typically reference are helping to clarify and expand the ways that better use of health data can improve health care delivery. What this translates to is a huge ask on the part of technologists to dramatically expand the volume of digital data that can be shared as well as the entities with whom it can be shared, while maintaining patient privacy and data security.

Important considerations that need to be addressed in the immediate short term to handle these developments are:

  • How to manage the identity and associated credentials of a querying entity (patient, provider, or payer) that is accessing their own personal health data or large volumes of data and what minimum bar is necessary to authorize such a transaction?
  • Similar question but for a patient app developer
  • Similar question for the patient who either through an in-person visit ONLY or alternatively via an entirely online interaction, obtains a credential for access to their own data
  • How do all of the above change, if at all, when 800-63-3 is brought under the lens? Can the above credentials still be generated through an online-only process considering the hefty restrictions of 800-63-3?

Please join us for this week’s #HITsm chat as we talk about the following questions:

T1: What does interoperability mean to you? Big asks/personal stories? #HITsm

T2: Ever heard (from a friend) of health data leaving 1 health system and being utilized in a different EMR? How did this help the patient? What personal information would patients be willing to make shareable between orgs in order to help providers “make sure you’re you”? #HITsm

T3: Does every provider already have the exact interoperability they want? Why or why not? If not, what is the biggest gap? #HITsm

T4: What do patients need to know about a patient facing application before allowing it to access their health data through an open API? #HITsm
(Want to really get into the weeds? See this and this)

T5: Is it a useful first pass for a patient to be able to share all health data from a given provider, or are special “valet keys” to limit sharing to certain data categories needed? #HITsm

Bonus: Do you have any ideas to improve measure reporting in order to reduce the burden on providers? #HITsm
(See this)

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
3/30 – What is Patient – Centric Care?
Hosted by Linda Stotsky (@EMRAnswers)

4/6 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

4/13 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always, let us know if you’d like to host a future #HITsm chat or if you know someone you think we should invite to host.

If you’re searching for the latest #HITsm chat, you can always find the latest #HITsm chat and schedule of chats here.

Inching Toward Health IT Interoperability – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on August 1, 2017 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.

We’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 8/4 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Alan Portela (@AlanWPortela) from Airstrip on the topic of “Inching Toward Health IT Interoperability.”

To some it may seem as though ‘interoperability’ is a stale health IT buzzword, but nothing could be further from the truth. Why? Because interoperability still isn’t a reality.

Data is digital, but not readily available; data exists in EHRs, but isn’t aggregated and shared in a way that makes sense for clinicians. In addition, precision medicine relies upon the ability to collect real time data from medical devices at the moment of care – physiologic phenotypes, genomic data, and the like. Precision medicine fundamentally depends on data to make unique diagnosis/care plans for individuals or populations. That cannot happen easily or effectively without interoperability.

Health IT could play a significant role in addressing more serious health issues, but a lack of interoperability and access holds us back. If we want precision medicine, then we need to recognize that interoperability is a must.

Questions we will explore in this week’s #HITsm chat include:
T1: Where have you seen the most success in health IT interoperability? #HITsm

T2: What have been your largest barriers to health IT interoperability? #HITsm

T3: What is vital to making health IT interoperability a reality? #HITsm

T4: Which industry stakeholder has the biggest responsibility to push health IT interoperability forward? #HITsm

T5: How should governing bodies – national and/or industry specific – support health IT interoperability? #HITsm

Bonus: How can we, as health IT leaders and innovators, drive the change the industry needs? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
8/11 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

8/18 – Diversity in HIT
Hosted by Jeanmarie Loria (@JeanmarieLoria) from @advizehealth

8/25 – Consumer Data Liquidity – The Road So Far, The Road Ahead
Hosted by Greg Meyer (@Greg_Meyer93)

We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always, let us know if you’d like to host a future #HITsm chat or if you know someone you think we should invite to host.

If you’re searching for the latest #HITsm chat, you can always find the latest #HITsm chat and schedule of chats here.

Health Data Sharing and Patient Centered Care with DataMotion Health

Posted on April 13, 2016 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.

Now that the HIMSS Haze has worn off, we thought we’d start sharing some of the great video interviews we did at HIMSS 2016. In this case, we did a 3 pack of interviews at the DataMotion Health booth where we got some amazing insights into health data sharing, engaging patients, and providing patient centered care.

First up is our chat with Dr. Peter Tippett, CEO of Healthcelerate and Co-Chairman of DataMotion Health, about the evolution of healthcare data sharing. Dr. Tippett offers some great insights into the challenge of structured vs unstructured data. He also talks about some of the subtleties of medicine that are often lost when trying to share data. Plus, you can’t talk with Dr. Tippett without some discussion of ensuring the privacy and security of health data.

Next up, we talked with Dennis Robbins, PHD, MPH, National Thought Leader and member of DataMotion Health’s Advisory Board, about the patient perspective on all this technology. He provides some great insights into patients’ interest in healthcare and how we need to treat them more like people than like patients. Dr. Robbins was a strong voice for the patient at HIMSS.

Finally we talked with Bob Janacek, Co-Founder and CTO of DataMotion Health, about the challenges associated with coordinating the entire care team in healthcare. The concept of the care team is becoming much more important in healthcare and making sure the care team is sharing the most accurate data is crucial to their success. Learn from Bob about the role Direct plays in this data sharing.

Thanks DataMotion Health for having us to your booth and having your experts share their insights with the healthcare IT community. I look forward to seeing you progress in your continued work to make health data sharing accessible, secure, and easy for healthcare organizations.

The Real HIPAA Blog Series on Health IT Buzz

Posted on April 8, 2016 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.

If you’re not familiar with the Health IT Buzz blog, it’s the Health IT blog that’s done by ONC (Office of the National Coordinator). I always love to see the government organizations blogging. No doubt they’re careful about what they post on their blog, but it still provides some great insights into ONC’s perspective on health IT and where they might take future regulations and government rules.

A great example of this is the Real HIPAA series of blog posts that they posted back in February. Yes, I realize I’m behind, but I’ll blame it on HIMSS.

Here’s an overview of the series:

It’s a common misconception that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) makes it difficult, if not impossible, to move electronic health data when and where it is needed for patient care and health. This blog series and accompanying fact sheets aim to correct this misunderstanding so that health information is available when and where it is needed.

The blog series dives into the weeds a bit and so it won’t likely be read by the average doctor or nurse. However, it’s a great resource for HIPAA privacy officers, CIOs, CSOs, and others interested in healthcare interoperability. I can already see these blog posts being past around management teams as they discuss what data they’re allowed to share, with whom, and when.

What’s clear in the series is that ONC wants to communicate that HIPAA is meant to enable health data sharing and not discourage it. We all know people who have used HIPAA to stop sharing. We’ll see if we start seeing more people use it as a reason to share it with the right people at the right time and the right place.

The Easiest Form of Healthcare Information Blocking – Charge for It

Posted on March 23, 2016 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’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.

EHR Vendor Commitments to Make Data Work at #HIMSS16

Posted on March 2, 2016 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.

As I think back on the first day and a half of HIMSS, I think that this might be the biggest news of the conference so far:

It seems that most people see this as a hollow commitment. Some might argue that we’re jaded by past history and they’d be right. However I’d make a different argument. Interoperability is hard and there are plenty of incentives not to do it. I don’t see this changing because EHR vendors commit to being interoperable.

Let’s be honest. Saying that they’ve “committed” doesn’t matter if they have no skin in the game. There’s no payment for successfully creating a product that’s interoperable. There’s no penalty for not being interoperable. That’s not ONC and HHS’ fault. They only have the levers that the government provides them. There are just so many easy ways for EHR vendors to feign interest in a real commitment to interoperability without actually executing on that vision.

While this type of announcement at HIMSS doesn’t really make me think that the dynamics around healthcare interoperability will change, I do like HHS’ decision to have EHR vendors work out the interoperability problem. If the government couldn’t solve interoperability with $36 billion in incentive money and penalties to boot, do we really think they can do anything to change the equation? At least on their own. This has to be an industry focused effort or it won’t happen.

While I must admit that I’m slowly becoming a skeptic of ever achieving true interoperability of health data, I think we will see point examples where data is being shared. I’m always intrigued by great companies who realize that they can’t be everything, but they can be something. I think we’ll see more of more companies like this.

Expecting Evolutionary, Not Revolutionary at #HIMSS16

Posted on February 26, 2016 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.

As most of you know, I’m deep in the weeds of planning for the HIMSS 2016 Annual conference. Actually, at this point on the Friday before HIMSS, I’m more or less planned. Now I’m just sitting here and wondering what things I might have missed. With that said, I’ve been preparing for this live video interview with the Samsung CMO which starts in 30 minutes (it’s recorded in case you miss the live discussion) and so I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to see at HIMSS. As someone who follows the changes in healthcare technology every day, I’m expecting lots of evolutionary changes and very little revolutionary.

As I think about it, I’m trying to imagine what someone could announce that would be revolutionary. That includes thinking back to past HIMSS to what announcements really revolutionized the industry. I can only think of two announcements that come close. The first announcement was when the meaningful use regulations were dropped right before the ONC session at HIMSS. Few people would argue that meaningful use has not revolutionized healthcare IT. Certainly many people would argue that it’s been a revolution that’s damaged the industry. Regardless of whether you see meaningful use as positive or negative, it’s changed so many things about healthcare IT.

The second announcement that stands out in my mind was the CommonWell health alliance. I’m a little careful to suggest that it was a revolutionary announcement because years later interoperability is still something that happens for a few days at the HIMSS Interoperability showcase and then a few point implementations, but isn’t really a reality for most. However, CommonWell was a pretty interesting step forward to have so many competing EHR companies on stage together to talk about working together. Of course, it was also notable that Epic wasn’t on stage with them. This year I’ve seen a number of other EHR vendors join CommonWell (still no Epic yet), so we’ll see if years later it finally bears the fruits of what they were talking about when they announced the effort.

The other problem with the idea that we’ll see something revolutionary at HIMSS 2016 is that revolutions take time. Revolutionary technology or approaches don’t just happen based on an announcement at a conference. That’s true even if the conference is the largest healthcare IT conference in the world. Maybe you could see the inkling of the start of the revolution, but then you’re gazing into a crystal ball.

The second problem for me personally is that I see and communicate with so many of these companies throughout the year. In just the last 6 months I’ve seen a lot of the HIMSS 2016 companies at various events like CES, RSNA, MGMA, AHIMA, etc. With that familiarity everything starts to settle into an evolution of visions and not something revolutionary.

Of course, I always love to be surprised. Maybe someone will come out with something revolutionary that changes my perspective. However, given the culture of healthcare and it’s ability to suppress revolutionary ideas, I’ll be happy to see all the amazing evolution in technology at HIMSS. Plus, the very best revolutionary ideas are often just multiple evolutionary ideas combined together in a nice package.