EHR vendors agree to objective interoperability measurements

Twelve major electronic health record vendors have reached consensus on an objective "interoperability metric" to measure data exchange and then report the findings on an ongoing basis, according to Orem, Utah-based research and insights firm KLAS.

The announcement notes that the vendors, assisted by leading provider organizations and informatics experts, "knocked down barriers to arrive at measures to improve interoperability for the public good." KLAS will administer the measurement/survey tool and "publish transparent measures of health information exchange that can serve as the basis for understanding our current position and trajectory."  

The vendors, which initially reached agreement at KLAS' Keystone Summit in Midway, Utah, earlier this month, include Allscripts, athenahealth, Cerner, eClinicalWorks, Epic, GE Healthcare, Greenway, Healthland, McKesson, MEDITECH, MEDHOST and NextGen Healthcare.

The move will enable interoperability to be measured in two ways: transaction counting and the experience of clinicians, according to John Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. In contrast, the Meaningful Use program "concentrated on counting transactions," he tells FierceEMR.

Micky Tripathi, head of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, calls the agreement the "first significant effort" by the private sector to step up and forward progress in interoperability. "We can self-regulate. We can do it," he tells FierceEMR.

KLAS will pilot the assessment tool with several providers, and is expected to launch the initiative early in 2016, Tripathi says.

Daniel Nigrin, senior vice president and CIO for the division of endocrinology at Boston Children's Hospital, calls the effort an enormous step forward.  

"Just the fact that the CEOs/Presidents of the largest EHR vendors agreed to convene together to discuss the problem is huge," Nigrin tells FierceEMR. "People don't realize how rarely that happens in this industry. Clearly this is only the beginning, with the ultimate goal of improving interoperability several steps down the line. But it's a crucial beginning to the process, to have all the vendor [and provider] leaders lock arms, and say 'we're going to get this done.'"

Halamka, Tripathi, Nigrin and Intermountain Healthcare Chief Medical Informatics Officer Stan Huff all were integral to the creation of the measurement tool.

Interoperability is the front burner issue in the EHR industry. The Meaningful Use program relies on it heavily, although the Government Accountability Office and others have questioned whether the program is providing the best means for data exchange.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement