Despite tremendous investments in EHR systems, much of medical data remains siloed. Serious work has begun to find workarounds, but significant change with regards to interoperability is unlikely this year.
In the image above of an intensive care unit room, there are more than 10 disconnected devices that are clearly not interoperable. "Does this look like smart healthcare?" asks Nick Valeriani, CEO, West Health.
In 2013, a white paper from Gary and Mary West Health Institute and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) estimated that interoperability could save the healthcare system some $30 billion.
Despite such enormous potential savings, interoperability in healthcare is more of a theoretical virtue than it is reality.
But there is a growing sense of the scope of the problem, and influential organizations such as the American Academy of Family Physicians and College of Health Information Management Executives are lobbying to include interoperability requirements into requirements for electronic health records. The EHR firm Athenahealth is also lobbying Congress for sensical interoperability requirements.
Meanwhile, many medical devices are becoming increasingly connected, and technology is available that makes interoperability a possibility.
In 2016, expect to hear more clamoring for standardization and data and hopefully strides towards interoperability as well.