Drivers of Healthcare Interoperability – Meaningful Use and ACOs

Seems like this week must be interoperability week on EMR and HIPAA after my post yesterday about HIE transport in meaningful use stage 2 and my post today on drivers of healthcare data interoperability.

I was looking through some past notes from a meeting at AHIMA that I had with Health Language Inc. It was a fascinating conversation with Brian F. McDonald, Executive VP and CFO and Marc A. Horowitz, Senior VP. I remember that these guys eat, drink and sleep medical terminology. One of the really interesting observations I took from talking with them was:

Meaningful use and ACOs are the drivers of interoperability in healthcare.

Months after first hearing this idea, it rings even more true. In meaningful use stage 2, ONC and CMS have made it very clear that they plan to use meaningful use as a motivating force behind the sharing of healthcare data. This includes sharing of healthcare data doctor to doctor and also doctor to patient. I expect meaningful use stage 3 will find these concepts at their core as well.

As we try and evaluate what an ACO would look like, some form of healthcare data exchange has got to be part of the solution. I don’t believe anyone will find a way to really improve health the way an ACO will need to improve care without an exchange of data between EHR systems. Considering the pay for performance days are short at hand, this will be an encouraging factor for EHR systems to start exchanging data.

I’ve often said the big problem with interoperability of data in healthcare is the financial aspects and the governance (ie. when to share data) aspects. I see ACOs and meaningful use pushing healthcare providers to figure out both problems.

If not these drivers, what else will get healthcare to start sharing data?

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, 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.


  • John,

    Nice post. Agreed that the main challenge standing in the way of true EHR interoperability is the lack of financial incentive for vendors. What it will take to move interoperability forward is really up for debate. I can definitely see ACO as a potential driver as it will undoubtedly advance the need for data exchange. I have written a couple pieces on this concept recently as well. The first appeared yesterday on Health Management Technology and the second on my own blog I would enjoy getting your take on some of the theories outlined in these pieces. Looking forward to checking back in with EMR and HIPAA more often.


  • Hi Arjen,
    Unfortunately, both links are hitting some nasty SQL error on the website. I’ll have to check them out later to see if the website is fixed.

    Thanks for reading the site.

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