ONC Report to Congress Highlights EHR Interoperability Challenges

In the October 2014 Report to Congress, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) reviewed the progress made in adoption of Electronic Health Record technology (EHR) and discussed the ongoing challenges to interoperability of EHR systems.  As the executive summary of the report notes, “Electronic health information is not yet sufficiently standardized to allow seamless interoperability, as it is still inconsistently expressed through technical and medical vocabulary, structure, and format, thereby limiting the potential uses of the information to improve health and care.”

The report highlights the increased adoption of EHR systems and discusses the positive impact of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs in helping to grow the adoption and meaningful use of EHRs by eligible providers.

Citing to the 2014 JASON report released by HHS entitled A Robust Health Data Infrastructure, ONC notes that two fundamental challenges to a robust health data infrastructure are the lack of interoperability which can be resolved only through comprehensive, transparent, and overarching software architecture for health information and the use of health related data for the public interest which requires protection of patient privacy and data integration.

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