NYT editorial board echoes industry qualms with barriers to sharing medical records

The sharing of medical records is critical to the healthcare continuum, but information transfers are still being blocked too often and too easily, suggested the New York Times editorial board in an editorial published last week.

The NYT editorial board's opinion isn't necessarily a new one — reasons for the dearth of information sharing have been frequently discussed in recent months, with much of the conversation centered on the lack of an economic incentive to share records. Vendors, according to some, aren't allowing for the easy sharing of information because it isn't in their best interest, and they don't gain any profit of any kind from doing so.

In December, Congress' omnibus bill included language saying the ONC should decertify EHRs that block electronic information exchange, and in April 2015, ONC issued a report to Congress outlining steps the agency has taken to stave off information blocking.

According to the NYT editorial, "the ability to transfer electronic medical records from one doctor or hospital to another is essential to the smooth functioning of the healthcare system and to providing the best possible care to patients. Yet all too often these transfers are being blocked by developers of health IT or greedy medical centers that refuse to send records to rival providers."

The editorial referenced the ONC's report to Congress, including ways to stop information blocking, such as transparency requirements and increased oversight by the federal government.

The government has invested so much money into digitizing healthcare, that the industry now needs to make the necessary changes to substantiate the investment, according to the NYT editorial board.

"The federal government has invested some $28 billion to convert hospitals and healthcare professionals to electronic health records, with gratifying results," the editorial read. "It would be a shame if limitations on [physicians'] ability to send and receive digital records undercut national efforts to improve the quality of care."

More articles on health IT:

Epic to waive record sharing fee
Kaiser Permanente to build IT campus in Georgia, create 900 jobs
Notes from the HIMSS15 exhibit hall

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