Feds say tech rivalries are hindering interoperability

Emily Rappleye (Twitter) -

Federal officials say tech companies, hospitals and laboratories are purposefully blocking the flow of information and attempting to lock in customers under one vendor to serve their own business interests, according to The New York Times.

"We have received many complaints of information blocking," said HHS' National Coordinator for health IT Karen B. DeSalvo, MD. "We are becoming increasingly concerned about these practices."

Many healthcare professionals are aware of this issue: One Everett, Mass.-based pediatrician, Peter E. Masucci, MD, told The New York Times he has spent more than five years trying to share patient records with a hospital.

Dr. DeSalvo shared issues like Dr. Masucci's in a report to Congress, and her office has enlisted the Federal Trade Commission to watch developments in the health IT sector.

Congress has begun to address these issues through the recent passage of a bill that prohibits physicians and hospitals from purposefully blocking the flow of information if they receive federal payments for EHRs, and another that makes information blocking a federal offense, punishable by fines up to $10,000 per violation, according to the report.

"Since 2009, we have spent $29 billion to encourage the adoption of electronic health records, but the data is still fragmented," Rep. Michael C. Burgess, (R-Texas), told The New York Times. "Vendors continue to impede the exchange of information."


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