EHR Interoperability and the Transcontinental Railroad

I recently read a nice article comparing EHR interoperability to the Transcontinental Railroad. They hit the key point when they said, “Just as standardizing the railroad gauge created a uniform distance between tracks so that track the came from the East and West would fit together, health care IT standards will create a seamless and interoperable IT infrastructure that will benefit the entire nation.”

I find the comparison incredibly intriguing and thought provoking.

The only problem I have with the comparison is that the transcontinental railroad was merging essentially 2 standards (east and west) and standardizing the gauge was the only standard needed. In health care IT we have far more stakeholders in the game and far more standards that need to be established (allergies, labs, RX, diagnosis, just to start).

This doesn’t diminish the value of the comparison since it’s often valuable to see a complicated challenge in a simplified way. I’m just saying that creating a standard in HIT is going to be much more difficult.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

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