A half dozen health information technology firms said Monday they will begin working to make their systems interoperable so that doctors across the U.S. can more easily share health records.
The companies include some of the largest makers of electronic health records software: Cerner Corp., McKesson Corp., Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc., athenahealth Inc., Greenway Medical Technologies Inc., and RelayHealth. In a joint statement, the firms announced the founding of a new not-for-profit organization to support interoperability of medical software.
Electronic medical records are seen as a crucial component in creating a health care system that's more efficient and less prone to error. The government has committed up to $30 billion to encourage this shift, mostly through incentive payments to hospitals and doctors that were authorized in 2009 under Obama's economic stimulus law.
While adoption of electronic medical records has increased in the last three years, there has been little progress in getting different computer systems to communicate with each other.
The companies say their new nonprofit, dubbed the CommonWell Health Alliance, aims to change that.
"We believe the industry needs to step up to the challenges of interoperability," said Cerner CEO and Chairman Neal Patterson, in a statement. "If we can rise to the challenge as an industry, we have a chance to deliver a golden era of health care."