Six tech giants have joined together in favor of interoperability, sending out a joint statement pushing greater information exchange for the sake of cloud- and artificial intelligence-based tools.
In their statement, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Salesforce encouraged using open standards and open-source tools to achieve interoperability and "frictionless data exchange," which they said would improve patient care and lower costs.
"We share the common quest to unlock the potential in healthcare data, to deliver better outcomes at lower costs," they wrote.
To achieve those goals, stakeholders should support existing standards made by organizations such as HL7 (the group behind FHIR) and the Argonaut Project, the companies wrote.
"Together, we believe that a robust industry dialogue about healthcare interoperability needs will advance this cause," they wrote.
This is the first time these companies have joined together in their push for interoperability, but it isn't the first time they've brought the subject up on their own.
In March 2018, Google launched its Cloud Healthcare application programming interface, which draws on standards to let users manipulate healthcare data for cloud-based analytics and machine learning.
And earlier, in a 2017 statement to HHS, IBM promoted patient access to health data—a push that the CMS has taken up as of late, particularly with MyHealthEData, an initiative to give patients control over their health data. CMS Administrator Seema Verma touted the initiative at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology's 2018 Interoperability Forum, though she didn't provide many details on how the CMS will achieve the aims of the project.
The six companies released their statement at the CMS' Blue Button 2.0 Developer Conference on Monday, where health IT developers discussed how to use Medicare claims data. With the Blue Button 2.0 API, launched this year, Medicare beneficiaries can send their Medicare claims data to third-party apps and services.
Recently, Apple opened its own Health Records API to allow patients to similarly share their health data—gathered in the company's iOS Health app—with third-party apps.
The 21st Century Cures Act mandates the use of such APIs for health data exchange. The six companies did not explicitly mention APIs in their statement.