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How Can We Achieve Nationwide Interoperability?


At HIMSS, Matt Michela, CEO of Life Image, suggests a few things that could drive interoperability.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has proposed new rules to achieve interoperability of electronic health information. The measures aim to increase choice and competition, promote patient access to and control of health information, and curb cost barriers that limit patient access to data.

While Matt Michela, president and CEO of Life Image, believes that this is a great leap forward in the industry-wide push to achieve nationwide interoperability, much more still needs to be done, he said.

>> READ: What Is Being Done About Healthcare's Lack of Interoperability?

"I remember 30 years ago writing articles about interoperability and how essential it was to drive cost and quality inside healthcare. Unfortunately, even a couple of years ago I could have recycled some of those blogs and those articles and republished them. No one would have known they were written 25 years later," Michela told Inside Digital Health™ during HIMSS 2019.

"Within the last handful of years, what we've seen, I think, is a dramatic shift in the ability for both the industry to achieve interoperability, as well as for the expectations of the market to achieve it," he added.

In the face of lackluster progress, the government needs to continue to implement rules that move interoperability forward by setting consistent expectations around achieving it, Michela said. In the past, the government supported the implementation of electronic medical records (EMR) to promote interoperability, but while the industry continues to grapple with frustrating EMR rollouts, the government must create and enforce rules that can help seamlessly connect patients with their personal health data.

Other industries like fintech, retail and shipping provide data to consumers through watches, smartphones, and apps, yet in healthcare, data fluidity has been a tremendous challenge. Tech giants in Silicon Valley have been pushing further into healthcare in an effort to free up static data, and Michela suggested that health systems should learn from their example.

Despite the huge power and influence of actors like the HHS and disruptors like Google and Amazon, the main driver that will push us toward efficient interoperability, Michela said, is consumers. For change to be realized, consumers must demand access to their health information.

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