Prerequisites for Achieving Interoperable EMR and EHR

Posted on November 18, 2008 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.

Today I came across an organization called the Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA). It looks like it’s kind of a consortium of EHR vendors that are also members of HIMSS. I’ve just begun reading some of the work and goals they have. A very interesting organization. I have much to say about what I’ve read, but one of their main initiatives seems to be the EHRVA Interoperability Roadmap. I took a quick look at version 2 of the document to try and gain an idea of how they were trying to accomplish the lofty and difficult goal of interoperable EHR/EMR software.

Briefly looking at the document one section in particular caught my eye that was called “Prerequisites for Achieving Interoperability.” I was excited to read what they thought was important for interoperable EMR software and the following is what I found:

The path to interoperability is fraught with challenges. Some of them are technical – determining what standards should be used to achieve interoperability and implementing those standards within HIT systems. Some are cultural – encouraging both vendors and providers to share information. And some are financial – identifying sources of funding needed to acquire the technology and to establish and sustain health information exchanges.

Nonetheless, we believe that interoperability is achievable, under certain conditions outlined in this Roadmap.

I was really disappointed in their list of prerequisites. Not one mention of the legal issues related to interoperability? That seems like one of the largest problems with interoperable medical records. It kind of falls under cultural, but it still should have at least been mentioned under cultural if that was their intention. An interoperable EMR is no use if legally you can’t exchange those records easily.

At least they did talk about the need to find a motivation mechanism for vendors and providers to share information. The honest truth is that interoperable EMR software doesn’t sell more software. Not to mention, there’s very little financial benefit for a doctor to spend time sharing information either.

The key is that interoperability is important and finding ways to meet/overcome these prerequisites is important and worthy of significant attention.