The following is a quote from a recent article by Guy Boulton of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper. Read it and weep.
Hundreds Of Physicians At ProHealth Care Hospitals Switching To EMR.
"In the next year, several hundred physicians who practice at ProHealth Care's hospitals in Waukesha and Oconomowoc will move from paper to electronic medical records [EMR], enabling them to improve the coordination and quality of care for patients." These "physicians will lease software that ProHealth uses at its hospitals and clinics." This "will allow the doctors to work from a single medical record on a central database, as opposed to each practice buying different software with little or no ability to share information."
Bold and italics above were inserted by me.
On the surface, one would be happy to read that more physicians and practices are finaly adopting EMR's. Unfortunately, the last sentence in the quote points to a serious problem with EMR adoption, namely the lack of data interchange standards. More specifically, the legislation that is busy throwing billions of tax dollars at healthcare providers for 'meaningful use' of EMRs does not also put a strict requirement on interoperability. Thus, we have hundreds of software companies and service providers who are competing for the EMR business but have little inclination or incentive to focus on the ubiquitous exchange of the data being collected. So, as more and more practices/hospitals implement EMR systems, the problem is going to snowball and the promise of electronic health records will not be met.
Message to Obama and the Administration: A focus on data exchange standards should be the #1 priority for meaningful use. Throwing money at adoption is putting the cart before the horse. Change it now or wait for inevitable failure.