Technology companies, hospital systems and doctors’ groups have agreed to take steps to make electronic health records easier for consumers to access and use, the Obama administration announced Monday.
While nearly all hospitals and most doctors’ offices have now gone digital, those systems often don’t talk to each other, limiting their usefulness to patients. The latest initiative is meant to speed removal of technological bottlenecks, but it’s unclear if it will lead to breakthroughs. The administration needs to make things happen fast, since President Barack Obama leaves office in less than a year.
“Now is the time for this data to be free and liquid and available,” said Karen DeSalvo, head of the Health and Human Services department office overseeing the transition to computerized medical records. The goal is to improve care where it matters the most, added DeSalvo, who spoke ahead of a formal announcement by Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell at a health technology conference in Las Vegas.
Taxpayers have ponied up about $27 billion in subsidies to encourage the adoption of electronic medical records by hospitals and doctors’ offices. But the results so far have fallen short of the data-driven transformation that proponents envisioned. With new personal health applications for mobile devices hitting the market, there’s a renewed push to clear obstacles rooted in different technologies and clashing competitive priorities among vendors and health care providers.
The agreement announced Monday covers 16 technology companies active in the health care arena, together representing about 90 percent of hospital electronic records used nationwide.
They have pledged to:
– Improve consumer gain access to. Theoretically, patients can easily access their data from one supplier and transfer them to some other. That second provider can import the sooner records into its program seamlessly. Think about the retiree from the Midwest who winters in Arizona and incurs an urgent medical problem.
– Stop blocking health details sharing. A report this past year from DeSalvo’s office discovered that some health care corporations were blocking the posting of details outside their group. At the right time, she known as the practice “fundamentally incompatible with attempts to transform the country’s health system.” Some authorities say that’s currently changing with greater make use of something named “direct exchange,” a protected messaging pathway between authorized medical providers.
– Put standards for safe and sound, productive digital communications into result. That would allow different systems to more talk with the other person easily.
Joining the technology firms are major hospital devices such as Hospital Company of Tenet and America Health care, together with insurers like Kaiser Permanente. The American Medical Association, the American Contemporary society of Clinical Oncology and various other medical groups are likewise participating.
Monday’s announcement lacked a difficult timetable. DeSalvo stated the administration plans to check on with the firms this fall to observe how much improvement has been made.