FAQ #2 - Steps toward Interoperability in Healthcare Systems

Healthcare Interoperability FAQ Series

FAQ #2: What steps have been made towards interoperability in healthcare systems?


Healthcare systems have been moving towards interoperability, but I would argue at a snail’s pace. And not with all players cooperating in that movement. There’s a long history of trying to get to the point we’re at right now where the ONC rule has come into effect and interoperability is going to happen. And it really has taken that rule, in order to make it actually begin to happen.
We’re still certainly miles away from being interoperable. But the fact is, the challenges in getting here have been largely related to the lack of interest and desire to cooperate among different vendors. To be honest with you, each vendor has its own business model and its own reason to protect this turf. And that’s been an enormous barrier.
But the fact that now this new rule is in place, really paves the way and establishes the rules. It’s taken more than a decade of work to get to this point. But it really took that rule to be the real catalyst, the real step that requires compliance. And that requirement is of compliance and providing information to the patient and becoming interoperable with other systems on the new SMART on FHIR standards. And that rule has been made so that everybody’s on the hook; the health plan payers, the providers and service providers, and the EHR vendors. And really, we’re just beginning those particular steps of becoming interoperable and being compliant with those new rules.


Dr. Steve Weatherbee

Dr. Weatherbee has spent decades working in education, behavioral health, public health, and more. He has experienced the unique challenges that exist in this field from multiple disciplines. His work in program evaluation lead him to create eINSIGHT to empower behavioral health service providers to improve client outcomes.