KLAS interoperability report examines what vendors, providers are doing to connect

Poor vendor coordination, trouble finding records and limited parsing abilities are among the biggest barriers to interoperability of health information, according to a new study from KLAS.

When it comes to interoperability, providers want "invisible, effortless connections that provide high patient care value," a report summary states.

The Orem, Utah-based research firm interviewed more than 200 healthcare providers over three months for its inaugural study, according to an announcement. KLAS scored electronic medical record vendors on a 1 to 5 scale based on the report's findings.

Epic came in at the top, almost on par but a slight notch above athenahealth; both had a rating of 3.8. Some of Epic's strengths included a "savvy IO team respected by competitors and providers" and "ubiquitous, valuable sharing among Epic customers." However, the EHR vendor saw weaknesses that included inflexibility and an industry perception of closed technology. Cerner came in third place with a 3.3. rating, while MEDITECH ranked in fourth with 3.0.

"We are shining a light on how both providers and vendors are committed to solving interoperability problems and proactively taking opportunities to improve healthcare," KLAS founder Kent Gale said in the announcement. "Having connectivity that allows information to be exchanged easily and without disruption is vital to the patient's care. We must enjoy that level of sharing as soon as possible. It's time to make that happen through industry collaboration around a unified goal."

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill also are working to ensure that health IT systems are working as promised, including when it comes to interoperability. Earlier this month, Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) introduced legislation that would require the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to set up a rating system and publish results on its website of product performance. What's more, ONC recently published the final version of its interoperability roadmap.

The KLAS report also found that almost all providers who responded were willing to share information, but fewer--82 percent--said their main competitor would be willing to share information.

In addition, smaller ambulatory and single-physician practices saw the most difficulties with interoperability, and had the lowest willingness to share data. 

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- get the report