Are we building the foundation for a Health IT Tower of Babel?

We have seen much attention paid to the adoption of electronic health records (EHR). Paying for EHR is notable as one aspect of healthcare reform that already has won funding thanks to billions set aside in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Some stimulus makes sense given the low adoption of EHRs by providers nationwide and the inefficiencies of a paper-based system.

But one aspect of EHR adoption has been largely overlooked. A new healthcare reform briefing paper by Rich Moyer and Paul Leonardo examines how population-level analysis is key to unlocking the potential of electronic health records. Community data pooling allows analysis that makes healthcare quality more apparent and can help measure and improve the system on a regional basis. These information exchanges are currently operational in at least five states and are already yielding results (while hopefully preventing the formation of new information silos in the move toward EHR).