Technology and beyond: The barriers to interoperability

Chris Nerney
Chris Nerney, Contributing Writer |
Technology and beyond: The barriers to interoperability

Without the right technologies in place, healthcare providers struggle to share electronic patient records with colleagues. But technology is far from the only barrier to interoperability, according to Healthcare IT News contributor Ray Pelosi.

Interoperability efforts also are weighed down by “financial or logistical obstacles, a lack of standardization, fear of new procedures, or data gaps in EHR systems,” he writes.

"Simply putting the technology in peoples' hands isn't enough," Steven Posnack, director of the Office of Standards and Technology for the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), tells Pelosi. “There need to be business agreements in place and, in many cases, a business model around exchanging information that impacts the delivery of care."

Even if healthcare networks are able to easily send and receive electronic health information, lack of standardization can make it impossible for data to be used effectively by clinicians to make decisions about patient care. For example, CCDA (Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture) is a structured data format that provides clinicians with summaries that are used in electronic health records.

But as David C. Kibbe, MD, president and CEO of DirectTrust, tells Pelosi, “One of the problems with interoperability is that the CCDA is still interpretable in different ways, so not every electronic health record can understand every other electronic health record's CCDA."

Kibbe says the traditional “fee for service” payment model, in which providers are compensated for specific services and procedures, also is a barrier to interoperability because it lacks the inherent incentives of value-based reimbursement models to encourage better care coordination and discourage unnecessary or duplicate services.

You can read the full article here.