This year's Health Information and Management Systems Society's HIMSS 2013 conference began with a shocker: The announcement that five leading electronic health record (EHR) vendors were forming a group called the CommonWell Health Alliance that would promote "seamless interoperability" of health care data.
HIMSS 2013 also saw the announcement of The Cure Project, an interoperability initiative started by New Health Networks to put to task the health care community, not vendors or the federal government, to help define interoperability standards for health care applications that capture, update, report and exchange information.
[ InfoWorld's Galen Gruman explains why health information exchange is such a tough effort. | Get the latest insight on the tech news that matters from InfoWorld's Tech Watch blog. ]
Slideshow: 13 health care IT trends and predictions for 2013.
There's also the ImPatient Movement, an effort from NoMoreClipboard.com, Microsoft HealthVault, and Indiana Health Information Technology to encourage patients to use an interoperable personal health record (PHR) and encourage providers to use the data in that PHR to improve care.
With a lack of interoperability standing as an obstacle to improving patient care -- and reducing the estimated $750 billion in annual unnecessary health care spending in the United States -- will parallel interoperability initiatives help or hurt the industry?
Vendor interoperability pledge met with skepticism
Although industry observers noted that an EHR vendor interoperability pledge is better than no interoperability at all, reaction to the CommonWell announcement was, in a word, skeptical. (It didn't help that Epic Systems, arguably the EHR market leader, is not part of CommonWell.)