Achieving EHR System Interoperability Falls on Developers, Frustrates Physicians

October 17, 2014 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​Healthcare risk managers may be interested in a September 30, 2014, New York Times article that discusses the interoperability of electronic health record (EHR) systems and some of the issues faced by physicians when systems made by competing companies are unable to share records. According to the article, while most providers have installed some kind of EHR system, two recent studies have found that fewer than half of the nation's hospitals can actually transmit a patient care document and only 14% of physicians can exchange patient data with outside hospitals or other providers. "We've spent half a million dollars on an electronic health record system about three years ago, and I'm faxing all day long. I can't send anything electronically over it," states a physician quoted in the article who is a member of a nine-person ophthalmology practice in northern Virginia. Where interconnectivity between systems does occur, notes the article, it often happens with steep upfront connecting charges or recurring fees, creating what many experts see as a digital divide between large hospital systems that can absorb these costs and small, rural hospitals or physician practices that are financially overwhelmed.

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