The path to EHR interoperability is no clearer today than it was when medical records began transitioning from paper to digital files. That delay has left physicians frustrated, policymakers baffled and vendors making more promises than progress for better data exchange.
It’s clear there is no one solution, but rather a confluence of issues that can lead to greater interoperability. But that provides little solace to practicing physicians seeking better use of EHRs and greater access to shared patient records.
Surveys show that the majority of doctors believe that exchanging health information with other providers could help them deliver better care. But they don’t want to spend time searching for the information; they want it delivered to them.
But observers say we’re still a long way from that.
“Even getting information to flow from organization to organization is a big undertaking, and it’s been hard to achieve,” notes Julia Adler-Milstein, Ph.D., an associate professor in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. “There’s a lot more to do to get the right subset of information to the provider at just the right time.”
There is no silver bullet to achieve full interoperability, experts agree, but a major step forward will be the widespread implementation of new apps that can be plugged into EHRs and used to transfer health information.