Federal Government Report on EHR Interoperability Pinpoints Barriers to Information Exchange; Questions Value of Meaningful Use Requirements

Some health IT experts criticize the Government Accountability Office report for ‘incomplete research’ and failure to focus on ‘person-centered interoperability’

Several years after paying billions of incentive dollars to thousands of hospitals and physicians to encourage adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), federal officials remain frustrated at the lack of interoperability among the competing EHR systems. This is a problem recognized by clinical laboratories that must create and maintain interfaces between their laboratory information systems (LISs) and the EHRs of their client physicians.

Frustration over this situation motivated Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee chairman, along with four other U.S. Senate Committee Chairman, to request that the General Accountability Office (GAO) study the problem and report its findings. The GAO released its report last September in a publication: “Nonfederal Efforts to Help Achieve Health Information Interoperability.”

The GAO’s investigators outlined five barriers to EHR interoperability. They also suggested that meaningful use (MU) requirements present a roadblock to information sharing. (more…)