Healthcare IT News has a good article reporting on what Farzad Mostashari, ONC National Coordinator, said at the Feb 6th Health IT Policy Committee. Farzad doesn’t mince words about some of the things he sees going on in the EHR world. Here’s a section from the above article:
“Vendors do the bulk of the heavy lifting, but as a society, sometimes competition is not in the public interest,” Mostashari said at the latest Feb. 6 meeting. “Government regulation can help in that case, but it’s not the most preferable way.”
“There are some vendors who are ‘beyond the pale’ in their conduct, and it is part of society to create codes of conduct to say this is what we believe in and this is what we do not believe in,” he added.
Mostashari said that some vendors go beyond the boundaries of what society views as proper, in their lack of opaque pricing. He said he gets complaints from providers on a daily basis, saying that some pricing or contract requirements are unfair to them, and asking if there could be some federally regulated norms around pricing.
Farzad also mentioned data lock-in as another place that EHR vendors could do what is legally right, but not necessarily morally right. Farzad called for EHR vendors to do what’s morally right, or else they’re going to go back to the regulation process. Sounds like a threat to me. Although, I’m not sure how much he can really do. Plus, are the EHR vendors that are doing these things going to care?
The other place I’m sure Farzad is thinking about is the closed gardens that so many EHR vendors have created. Farzad asked for the EHR vendors to act as a community. Sounds like a call for EHR vendors to start working together and sharing the healthcare data. HIE is and should be a huge initiative for ONC, and EHR vendors are standing in the way of that happening.
With that said, I’m afraid that Farzad’s call is falling on deaf ears. Most EHR vendors that display these practices know exactly what they’re doing and have already made the choice. They’re unlikely to change because someone in government threatens them with more regulation.
What could have the most affect in this regard is doctors, hospitals and medical groups reading their contracts and not signing contracts with EHR vendors that have language that will cause a problem for the doctor later. Once hospitals stop patronizing EHR vendors that don’t act well, we’ll see some change.