National E-Health Network Remains Industry Challenge
As doctors and hospitals begin to transition to electronic medical records, one industry obstacle remains: ensuring that patients' records can smoothly follow them from one provider to another, the Associated Press reports. Though new stimulus funding for electronic records requires records to be "interoperable," or shareable, "the debate over interoperability among health care providers, which has been going on for years, could take well beyond the 2014 timeframe to be solved, industry experts say."
"For an integrated system to work, developers have to agree on how their hundreds of programs present information and connect with each other. For example, if one uses its own set of abbreviations, the information would be useless to a doctor who uses a different program," the AP reports. "Dr. David Blumenthal, the Obama administration's health information technology director, acknowledged a national system for sharing records is far off. He said federal officials hope to issue regulations controlling how medical information is shared by the middle of next year and plan to provide about $300 million in stimulus funds to develop regional and local information exchanges. But he said the government likely will stay out of the thorny issue of exactly how that national system will work. (Twiddy, 9/30).