Regarding the recent article “Top EHR vendors agree to interoperability metrics”, if vendors had focused on this from the start, we could be avoiding all this catch-up now.
Add to the mix the industrywide presence of staffers, administrators, IT folks, physicians and other caregivers who don't really understand HIPAA's limitations (please stop discussing patients in the hallway) and/or its freedoms (disclosure for continuity of care is absolutely allowed). The lack of understanding has added to this mess.
Another layer comes in the form of restrictions that were meant to hinder inappropriate access, but instead they have hindered patient care (a doctor with privileges at a hospital needs a patient record, but can only see patients assigned to the said doctor; if assignment is missed at registration, the doctor can't see the patient's records).
HIPAA itself is nearly 20 years old. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act adds clarity, but the medical community depended on the tech community to get us into this brave new world and in many ways it failed us with proprietary stands on sharing information and platforms. They knew their customers were barreling toward this moment and instead of communicating then, they dragged their feet until the outcry for interoperability became too loud to ignore. I don't want to pat them on the back. I want to ask them, “What took you so long?” Also, “How much are you going to charge me for all the upgrades I'm most assuredly going to require?”