What's Taken So Long?
Nearly everyone agrees the entry of the medical profession into the digital age is long overdue. Now that Utah and several other states are gearing up with health information exchanges, American healthcare stands poised for a monumental leap forward.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that soon 90% of physicians and 70% of hospitals will be using electronic health records, saving billions and providing patients with coordinated, informed care.
But what’s taken so long? It’s not that the technology was unavailable – a similar system launched the electronic exchange of the banking industry in the 1980s.
The answer, in a word, is money. Interoperability – or the ability to allow thousands of different medical systems to “talk” to one another – is a requirement for healthcare facilities to receive some of the more than $17 billion in federal stimulus funding to encourage adoption of electronic health records.
The result: While Utah’s four major hospital systems are typically more focused on competition for patients than cooperation with each other, they’ve now agreed on the uniform standards that make the Clinical Health Information Exchange (cHIE) possible.