Another year, another set of draft frameworks and rules, app releases and APIs, and the healthcare IT industry still hasn't solved interoperability. And yet leaders spent so much time talking about it over the course of 2018, a year punctuated by moments in data exchange that felt big but failed to deliver the holy grail of industrywide interoperability.
Interoperability nevertheless remained top of mind in 2018, with players big and small, entrenched and untraditional, joining the cacophonous call for a health system in which patient data can move between providers and, sometimes, even move via the patients themselves.
Over the year, the promise and potential of interoperability stretched from patient to provider, from consumers' step-counting to providers' electronic health record software. The industry struggled to connect the two, held up by questions of privacy and standards as well as by vendors and providers that still see a business case in not sharing patient data.
“We've all been waiting for some way to connect medical records,” said OptumLabs CEO Paul Bleicher. “Morally, ethically, that should have happened a long time ago.”
As the industry shifts, in theory, toward value-based payment models, information-sharing becomes paramount. “The premise in a lot of these arrangements is that a clinician is going to be held accountable for quality and total cost of care,” said Anders Gilberg, senior vice president of government affairs for the Medical Group Management Association. “They can't control the outcomes of these patients if they don't have the data.”
The trickle rather than torrent of data has slowed the uptake of value-based models, Gilberg said. In turn, a closed-off system of data sharing seems less and less sustainable. And the industry knows it—as do those outside of the industry.