The Path to Healthcare Interoperability Standards

I’ve been thinking a lot about the issues associated with healthcare interoperability. One of the biggest excuses/problems out there is the idea of interoperability standards. Healthcare certainly has plenty of interoperability standards, but adoption and implementation of the actual standards has been the major issue.

I do think that meaningful use and EHR certification is making some difference in regards to standards. I think that Direct Project is likely going to become a pretty solid standard for exchanging some healthcare documents. However, it’s limited in it’s scope.

Instead, I think we’re going to see a different path to healthcare interoperability. It’s going to be led by a few prominent organizations that start sharing info. Once those organizations start sharing data, whatever standard they use will start to spread and will become the standard for interoperability in healthcare.

Which organization or group of organizations will be the ones that break out and establish the standard? I still think the jury is out on that one, but a couple prime candidates are: CommonWell and Healtheway.

I’d love to hear if you see another path to healthcare interoperability or other initiatives that could break through and be successful.

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.


  • I think as long as CommonWell remains transparent, it has real possibilities. The fact that a group sees a common need, pulls players that are open to communication from across the board and makes an attempt is a good first step. Jury may still be out, but so good to finally see some transparency (at least at its start) is a great first step.

  • Natalie,
    I think CommonWell has potential as long as they keep it open to everyone and don’t put in fees that exclude many from participating.

  • John, good point about the fees. If it turns to a pay for service type of model, that would be extremely detrimental to the push for it. Especially since the vendors are already heavily modeled upon a fee schedule for their products. I would hate to see it turn that way, but am keeping an interested eye on their efforts. Great articles on your site, btw. I follow it daily.

  • Natalie,
    Yes, there are a lot of ways they can make it not work with fees. I think there intent is good now, but we’ll see how it goes when push comes to shove.

    Thanks for the kind words on the site and for reading regularly. Readers make it all worthwhile.

  • John, just stepping into this world of healthcare data interoperability and wow! there’s a lot to keep track of. I’d like to follow up on your suggestion that CommonWell and Healtheway might lead the way — can you point me to a couple of blog posts or websites that discuss what these organizations have been doing along these lines?


  • Asa,
    Always a lot to chew on in healthcare. Here’s the article I wrote on CommonWell:

    As for Healtheway, I haven’t written much on them yet, but I know a lot of the names behind it and think they could produce some good results.

    I’d say both are more about the people involved at this point as opposed to the actual results they’ve demonstrated.

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