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Can tech giants fix healthcare interoperability? Survey shows cautious optimism

Chris Nerney
Chris Nerney, Contributing Writer |
Can tech giants fix healthcare interoperability? Survey shows cautious optimism

Some of the world’s largest technology companies – including Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Salesforce – vowed earlier this month at a White House meeting to eliminate interoperability barriers in healthcare.
In a recent online poll, Healthcare IT News readers were split on whether these tech giants can succeed. As Healthcare IT News reports, the survey responses “revealed sharp divisions among the 280 anonymous respondents: 40.7 percent said yes, while 23.2 percent said no, because it’s too hard for nontraditional vendors to solve. The rest, 36.1 percent, said it’s too soon to tell.”
Not exactly an overwhelming vote of confidence, but there’s a reason: The announcement, made during the Blue Button 2.0 Developer Conference run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), was long on stated resolve and short on details.
The companies did sign a brief pledge that reiterated how “frictionless exchange of healthcare data” can lead to better patient care, higher user satisfaction, and lower costs, and that interoperability “must account for the needs of all global stakeholders,” including providers patients, payers, and more.
The pledge also calls open standards, open specifications, and open source tools “essential to facilitate frictionless data exchange” and vowed that signees will work with open source and open standard communities to develop healthcare interoperability standards.
Sorting out interoperability standards for healthcare won’t be easy, but as Healthcare IT News Editor-in-Chief Tom Sullivan notes, these tech giants already have massive networks and experience with open standards in other industries.
“They all have big infrastructure for clouds that transport data the world over,” he writes. “They already have scale. Relative to healthcare, each has experience with HIPAA. Generally speaking, these companies make better use of data than any others in the world and understand how APIs and open source software works.”