By Mohana Ravindranath // April 10, 2015
It could be years before patients move freely between health care systems followed seamlessly by their electronic health records.
Are technology developers -- and big health care conglomerates -- to blame?
The Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT is paying special attention to health systems engaging in “information blocking" -- knowingly, and sometimes "unreasonably," interfering with the exchange of information.
On Friday, ONC issued a report to Congress about allegations that health care providers and IT developers are working to block the exchange of patient information, especially to competitor health systems.
For instance, larger hospital systems are less likely than smaller ones to exchange electronic health information externally with competing hospitals and unaffiliated providers, the report found. Hospitals that have “invested significant resources internally to deliver more valuable care” could be less likely to exchange information with unaffiliated providers.
ONC compiled the report based on complaints to HHS. During a conference call Friday, agency heads acknowledged there isn’t yet much quantifiable information about the practice.
Most complaints about information blocking are directed at health IT developers, the report said -- developers sometimes charge fees for customers (health care systems) to send, receive or export electronic...