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Compelling business need exists for interoperability among vendors

A reader shares his thoughts on CommonWell interoperability agreement, and federal, private standards development initiatives.

Editor's note: received this feedback in response to the article, Cerner, McKesson reveal CommonWell patient data interoperability deal. The letter has been edited for style but not for content.

Thanks for your detailed reporting of this important five electronic health record vendor alliance event in the journey to seamless national health IT system interoperability.

I think that the success of the 2010 Direct Project, the multiple interoperability standards being developed by the Standards & Interoperability Framework and the exponential increase in EHR competitors (a total of 1,850 certified complete ambulatory and inpatient products available today) have created compelling business incentives for this unprecedented collaboration of competing EHR companies.

I share Dave Chase's view that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) is "like a referee between silo-loving, Wang-esque health IT vendors and the avalanche of health IT innovators and transformers with the playing field tipped against them." Whatever Epic Systems Corp. and other legacy system vendors decide to do with their platforms, interoperability standards development based on open collaboration and open platforms and the resulting "commoditization of connectivity" that challenges rent seeking behavior and vendor lock-in are dramatically changing both the health IT playing field and the game itself.

My perspective on these developments is based on my participation since February 2011 in the S&I Framework’s LRI+LOI+eDOS and Blue Button Plus initiatives and my meeting in June 2011 with the first two S&I Framework Coordinators, Arien Malec, vice president of data platform solutions for McKesson Corp., and Jitin Asnaani, who is now director of product innovation at athenahealth Inc.

What has not yet been widely recognized in the media is that none of this "disruption of HIE 1.0" would have happened if the federal government (ONC and the Dept. of Health and Human Services) had not set aside the “top down” approach that's traditional for government. Dr. David Blumenthal’s Feb. 2, 2011 blog gives that overview of ONC’s open collaboration/open platform approach to interoperability standards development.

A May 2011 description of how these emerging open source standards are creatively disrupting HIE 1.0 and beginning to commoditize EHR, PHR and HIE platform connectivity was provided by Asnaani.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Jean DerGurahian, editorial director or contact @SearchHealthIT on Twitter.

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