Blocking in the
Noam H. Arzt, PhD, FHIMSS
In January 2015, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released the first draft of their
Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap. The roadmap lays out the principles, requirements and strategies for enabling and managing
interoperability within what it calls the “Learning Health System” (LHS), which represents a paradigm shift in the healthcare
ecosystem within which organizations operate. Within this vision, the LHS will feel less like a collection of interoperable systems
and more like one large virtual system, providing appropriate access to data where and when it is needed–both for clinical as well
as analytic purposes. Many EHR vendors are putting up barriers to access data that comes into the EHR even if the data originates
within an organization – often referred to as “information blocking,” which may lead to increased monetization of healthcare data.
While the use by vendors of standards-based versus proprietary approaches to data access helps reduce some of these barriers,
the strict use of standards by vendors does not guarantee that data will be accessible and available to the organizations that have
already paid to capture and store it. This article will discuss the potential impact that the LHS will have on the development of
interoperability standards within healthcare and the continuing evolution of electronic health records (EHRs) to meet this vision.
This article will offer perspectives on how healthcare organizations can work to educate themselves and advocate for systems
more supportive of the LHS’s emerging needs.
EHR, EMR, LHS, Analytics, Interoperability, Standards, HL7, Information Blocking