Last week, Dr. Doug Fridsma, chief science officer at the ONC, published an excellent article on health IT interoperabilitytitled Health IT as an Ultra Large-Scale System. In the article he very knowledgeably and effectively counters the argument I hear so often from those who work outside of health IT, especially strong advocates for the Affordable Care Act, whose demands sound a little something like this, give or take a word or two: "HEALTHCARE INTEROPERABILITY IS TAKING TOO LONG! At this rate, we'll never see change in our lifetimes."
They'll get no arguments from me – health data exchange and interoperability does indeed take a lot of work. However, it is happening at a much faster pace than most people realize. I mentioned in my last post on health information exchangeorganizations that there were 322 in operation in the U.S. in 2012. Alone, that's a phenomenal advancement (27% more than 2011); however, only 88 of these HIEs are actively exchanging health data. What does that mean? That demand for health data exchange is much greater than what systems currently have the ability to support.