Interoperability takes work, not magic

Political bickering was on full display at last week's House and Energy Commerce Committee hearings, which focused on the guidance and regulation of mobile medical applications. One line of questioning during the hearings rubbed me the wrong way.

When National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari testified before the committee on Thursday, Rep. Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas) asked about the ONC leader's role in healthcare interoperability--or lack thereof.

"You're the head, why don't you fix that?" Burgess asked. "Why don't you just make that happen?"

As a member of congress since 2003 and a physician, Burgess should know better than to think that Mostashari can simply wave a magic wand and dictate interoperability to the masses. Between provider organizations both large and small and the vendors tasked with creating compliant technology, there simply are too many rooting interests to make such a broad declaration.

While I do believe that such an effort should be primarily pushed by the government, and that it needs to happen sooner rather than later, I also believe that--as cumbersome as they may seem--committees and meetings that seek to listen to all stakeholders involved are necessary to ensuring that such decisions aren't immediately deemed irrelevant and irresponsible.

"We don't want to be the ones to say, 'We'll choose the standards,'" Mostashari said in response to Burgess. "We want to really work with the industry to get consensus and accelerate this."

Mostashari is right. A rush to judgment wouldn't be in anybody's best interests. Interoperability is not an overnight process. - Dan @FierceHealthIT