Tech giants pledge to get healthcare solutions on the same page

Six major tech giants — Google, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce — vowed to work together to remove barriers to interoperability in healthcare, the companies said at CMS' Blue Button 2.0 Developer Conference in Washington D.C.

The companies proposed to build technologies for the healthcare industry that abides by Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, a set of standards for electronically exchanging health information, and the Argonaut Project.

In a statement, the companies said: "We are jointly committed to removing barriers for the adoption of technologies for healthcare interoperability, particularly those that are enabled through the cloud and AI. We share the common quest to unlock the potential in healthcare data, to deliver better outcomes at lower costs."

The statement laid out four "foundational assumptions" about health data interoperability:

1. Frictionless exchange of data will improve patient care, increase user satisfaction and lower costs

2. To be successful, interoperability must account for the needs of all stakeholders who develop, test, refine and scale the deployment of new tools and services

3. Open standards, open specifications and open source tools are essential

4. Interoperability is an ongoing process

Achieving interoperability in healthcare is particularly challenging since EHR vendors like Epic or Cerner aren't motivated to share data with already-thriving tech giants. The government and the private sector have long sought to fix this problem, but much of their efforts have focused on getting providers onto EHRs, rather than sharing the data those systems hold.

"To deliver true healthcare data interoperability, many stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem need to engage to develop collaboratively and support open standards, open specifications and open source tools that facilitate a frictionless healthcare data exchange with appropriate permissions and controls," Google stated.

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