Have you ever heard the saying “give the people what they want”? Well, the healthcare industry has spoken and it wants interoperability among EHR systems. So what’s stopping this from becoming a reality? Information blocking.
This issue has caught the eye of not only Itentive, but has made its way to Congress. Information blocking has become a subject matter of concern for almost every government healthcare agency this year.
It truly is the latest and greatest stressor in the healthcare industry after ONC shined a spotlight on it by publishing a report to Congress in April of this year, and the recently approved 21st Century Cures act makes it a federal offense punishable by fines. Cue healthcare frenzy among providers, patients, and EHR vendors. But what is it? Who is committing it? And who is falling victim to it? No one seems to be providing concrete answers to these crucial questions; all we know is Congress is angry, providers are angry, and unknowing patients should be angry.
Information blocking can be described as the basic refusal to exchange patient information with others. This can include EHR vendors refusing to build an interface to communicate with other systems, providers trying to regulate referrals or any exchange with unaffiliated providers or even lab/diagnostic center not supporting interface standards; just to name a few.
The purpose of electronic health records was to make care coordination an actuality between physicians and EHR systems. It was also to make the transfer of health information possible and make the patient experience better and safer. Each time you walk into a doctor’s office the reality should be that all your health information is readily accessible by your provider regardless of where you received care. Now we have the ability to do all of this—but are certain EHR vendors and other healthcare entities deliberately choosing not to even though they are capable or is this simply due to lack of expertise?
This is incredibly important because it affects the quality of your care on a very real level. I am hopeful that we will see a change come around as EHR vendors are beginning to show signs of progress, such as NextGen® Share, which opens the lines of communication with not only other EHR systems but with other health information exchanges as well.
We, at Itentive, are very passionate about this subject and are working very hard not only with EHR systems and other exchanges in order to make this a reality. We are looking at new and alternative methods of exchanges, such as telemedicine, population health and portals to help make information blocking a thing of the past.