The torch is being passed. And it’s burning brighter than ever.
From the instant that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was penned into law back in 2009, the federal government has advocated for nationwide health information exchange. Some of its tactical efforts have been rather literal, such as setting up state health information exchanges (HIEs), while others have focused on putting the pieces in place to enable exchange to occur through technical standards and policy guidance.
Up until 2012, the government drove information exchange of its own volition (and taxpayer dollars), setting the vision and pushing forward the interoperability mandate onto the industry through programs such as meaningful use, the EHR certification program, and the Affordable Care Act.
The results have been tangible: In 2013, almost 78 percent of office-based physicians reported they adopted some type of EHR system, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. During 2014, 76% of hospitals exchanged at least some type of data outside their organization, compared with 62% the year before, according to the American Hospital Association's annual hospital survey.
But over the last three years, the private sector has stepped into the limelight. Vendors and providers have taken the reins on operationalizing the exchange of data, even while the government continues to express its vision through such mechanisms as the Office of the National Coordinator's (ONC's) “Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap.”
Five private sector initiatives in particular are accelerating the reality of interoperability, discussed here in chronological order: