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Cerner, McKesson CEOs to hold court at HIMSS 2013

Putting two and two together, we’re guessing that we’re about 10 days away from the announcement of a historic Cerner-McKesson interoperability agreement. Something’s afoot at HIMSS 2013 between the two companies.

While nothing’s been made official since SearchHealthIT first broke the story of a potential sweeping interoperability agreement that could make McKesson’s RelayHealth a health information exchange (HIE) hub for Cerner customers – with potentially other EHR vendors invited to join in – CEOs John Hammergren and Neal Patterson are appearing together in public for the first time ever, for a session that promises “a game-changing industry development” revolving around “innovation, ingenuity and interoperability.”

Specifics of what the two CEOs will talk about have yet to be unveiled, but it’s becoming clearer that if the EHR industry doesn’t start competing on metrics other than proprietary patient data formats, national HIT coordinator Farzad Mostashari, M.D. will step in and oversee regulations to make it happen. Efforts like Cerner and McKesson working out interoperability on their own, and HIMSS leasing more than 12,000 square feet of space for year-round interoperability work beyond contests and connectathons point toward the industry’s getting the message.

Still, even if this interop stuff is all tilting toward that ultimate goal of nationwide HIE, like any automated teller machine can tell us our checking account balance regardless of what bank owns the machine, experts we polled weren’t sure it would be enough. They registered “wait-and-see” perspectives on how much impact two vendors banding together to play nice in the HIE sandbox will have – considering Epic’s dominant role in the market, and whether or not Epic Systems would be welcomed to play, too.

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