Record sharing gets a Silicon Valley-sized boost

When health patients have to sign and re-sign their paperwork for medical providers and specialists it can not only be a bit annoying, but also create a paper trail that stacks up. In recent years, health care providers have been trying to alleviate this by digitally sharing patient information, making it easier for new providers and specialists to access the information they need.

Now, some of the nation’s biggest tech companies, including Alphabet and Amazon, are getting in on medical record sharing and local companies are hoping to be part of this efficient and forward-thinking solution. A joint statement put out by the companies, along with Microsoft, promotes healthcare interoperability and a push to move the system to be more technologically sound and efficient through AI.

Arizona hospitals have invested millions of dollars to upgrade the technology behind record sharing, making electronic medical records more commonplace. Companies like Abrazo and Banner Health Network have made efforts to upgrade their systems. All this is meant to make things easier for patients who want their records available from doctor to doctor, hospital to hospital.

Health Current, a Phoenix-based health information exchange (HIE) company, has been making this kind of advance in the industry for some time, and the support from the major tech giants is pushing things along at a faster clip.

“While it is encouraging to have the commitment of companies such as Apple and

Microsoft, there must also be commitment of all healthcare technology companies to these new standards,” says Health Current CEO Melissa Kotrys. “Moving patient information also involves navigating the complexities of state and federal laws governing patient consent, so the challenge of interoperability is complex and not an issue that has a simple standards-based or financial solution.”

HIE is a system in which various patient records can be interfaced and securely shared. Health Current is the state’s HIE platform and touts more than 500 healthcare organizations, holding a hefty data load of eight million patients. What’s more, nearly all (about 95 percent) of Arizona hospital inpatient and emergency department admissions can share records through Health Current.

Different HIE companies around the country have seen roadblocks in promoting interoperability, a major challenge among the networks.

“Electronic records improve health care quality and make it possible to securely share patient health information; however, these records systems are developed by hundreds of technology companies who use different methods for capturing and coding records, creating barriers to “interoperability,” the secure sharing of patient records electronically,” explains Kotrys.

The main goal for companies like Health Current is to make all records sharing available and efficient. This would require organizations within health care to pinpoint what data is actually captured. What’s more, organizations will have to address things like which national standards will be used to allow access to data at hand.

The tech companies mentioned above have touted one national standard called Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, or FHIR.

“The pledge by major technology companies is very welcome, and we are very supportive of their interest and commitment. But the promise of a national pledge should not obscure or hinder the very good work and progress being done by HIEs across the country,” says Kotrys.

Nick Esquer

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