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the great potential of ONC's proposed interoperability rules
May 30, 2019

Portability and Patient Ownership of Health Data

Featured in Inside Digital Health on May 30, 2019. By Matthew A. Michela, President and CEO, Life Image.

Healthcare has incredible diagnostic imaging technologies, from CT scans to 3D heart MRIs, which make it possible to diagnose and treat disease states that used to be undetectable. Unfortunately, these images have historically only been accessible through siloed imaging informatics systems that are unintuitive, unhelpful and non-interoperable. In the past, these meticulously acquired images were often highly inaccessible at the point of care and have been incredibly challenging to integrate usefully with other clinical data. This is, thankfully, no longer the case.

The ONC Proposed Rule on Promoting Interoperability provides an opportunity to take advantage of technological advances that now routinely facilitate the incorporation of diagnostic imaging into a wide variety of data systems, eliminate obsolete processes such as transporting imagery via CD and ensure full patient access to medical records.

Why Change Is Necessary and Long Overdue

There are several reasons why diagnostic images have not become part of the patient record demanded by previous federal rules. Some of the most prevalent include reluctance of large market incumbents to change their ways of doing business to allow for greater flexibility in data access; resistance by industry to make investments in standards-based technology to facilitate interoperability; and perceived technical challenges in managing unstructured data. Vendors want to defend their market shares, hospital systems want to minimize referral leakage, and few parties want to invest in interoperability unless it is directly tied to revenue. The incentives in place in today’s healthcare system encourage vendors and providers to retain data and maintain barriers to interoperability.

Forces from outside of this walled healthcare garden, however, are quickly making this system of siloed data untenable, including ambitious tech giants with powerful data platforms, patients advocating more vocally, and the federal government demanding changes.

The industry must prepare for this increasing demand for a truly interoperable and interconnected system. In order to achieve a workable system for storing, managing and distributing diagnostic images (one of the most essential parts of healthcare data), the following things must change.

Read the complete article here.