The path to statewide interoperability has become a bit easier with the announcement by several electronic health record (EHR) vendors that they would eliminate fees that caused concern for some health care organizations seeking to participate in health information exchange (HIE).
In April, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology sent a report to Congress, criticizing information technology developers as well as health care organizations for "blocking" state and federal efforts at HIE. Later in the month, Epic Systems, Athenahealth, and other EHR vendors announced plans to halt charges for interfaces and transactions related to HIE.
In its April 27th edition, Wisconsin Health News reported that Epic, the largest EHR vendor in Wisconsin, previously charged providers 20 cents for each clinical message sent to a health information exchange with inbound messages charged at a rate of $2.35 per patient per year. The vendor eliminated the fees retroactively to April 1 and plans to continue with no-charge data sharing until 2020.
Elimination of HIE-related fees is just one piece of the puzzle for interoperability. As Jitin Asnaanii, Executive Director of CommonWell Health Alliance points out, free exchange doesn't necessarily equal effective exchange. "There are two key factors that will drive real-world exchange and usage of health information," Asnaanii told Healthcare Dive, "(a) availability of functioning interoperability services to those who need them; and (b) access to the data when and where it is needed."
So while many EHR vendor fees have been eliminated for the moment, it remains to be seen if the vendors will also remove technical and practical barriers to exchange with other EHR vendors' products.
WISHIN's vendor-agnostic, one-to-many architecture advances true interoperability. One connection with WISHIN circumvents the complexity of multiple point-to-point connections between providers and delivers access to information from all other participating organizations. With clinical information for more than 2.6 million unique patients (and growing) WISHIN is a critical tool for advancing interoperability for seamless, complete and improved patient care statewide.