Everywhere we look, interoperability is in action: Your Android cell phone can call my iPhone. Your ATM card allows you to withdraw cash from any ATM. But if you present at an emergency department two towns over, your electronic health records might not be available to those treating you because health IT lacks a common platform to make that happen. It’s time for this to change. 

To be clear: hospitals and health systems are making great progress in sharing health information with the tools we have—93 percent have made records available to patients online and 88 percent share records with ambulatory care providers outside their system. But it’s a patchwork system because financial, technological and policy obstacles are getting in the way.

That’s why the American Hospital Association and six other national hospital associations released a new report this week urging all stakeholders to work together to advance interoperability. Getting there will require collaboration across private and public sector entities including hospitals and health systems, tech companies, insurers, consumers, and federal and state governments. 

The report, Sharing Data, Saving Lives: The Hospital Agenda for Interoperability, outlines the path forward that will lead to improved health care, engaged individuals and increased value. In short: better health outcomes for America’s patients. 

We believe there are six elements to successfully advancing interoperability:

•    Ensuring security and privacy of patient records.
•    Creating efficient solutions that provide data when providers need it—and in a useful format.
•    Building cost-effective, enhanced IT infrastructure.
•    Creating common standards so information sharing is available to more providers.
•    Making sure this system connects beyond EHRs to support population health, address social determinants of health, and facilitate remote monitoring and patient-generated data.
•    Developing and sharing best practices so we get the most out of interoperability. 

America’s patients deserve the best care in the world, and America’s national hospital associations are united in calling for accelerated interoperability to make that happen. 

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