In response to my recent note commenting on the EHR vendor and hospital approach to EHR interoperability (see: NYT Op-Ed on EHR Interoperability Blames Vendors and Greedy Hospitals), Grahame Grieve submitted the following comment:
it actually costs money to share data. So surely it's reasonable to pay the people who do the work to do it. Maybe the problem is that the benefits of sharing the data don't accrue to the people who actually share it. It's the recipients who do - but there's no obvious channel for them to pay. So, a broken market. With all the consequential behaviour.
Apropos of the topic of interoperability and the fees, or lack thereof, for data sharing, a recent article on this topic provides a reasonable response to Grahame's comment (see: As HIMSS15 Ends, Health Data Interoperability is Just Starting). Here is what I consider the key from the article:
In a keynote address, Humana CEO Bruce Broussard urged all players in the industry to embrace health data interoperability as the foundation for a new perspective on chronic disease management, population health, and overall wellness for patients. “We need to look at information as a shared asset, not a proprietary one,” Broussard said. “It’s an asset that should be flowing through our system freely, as opposed to being taxed and tolled along the way. We all can benefit from interoperability. As you think about the silos in the industry and you think about value-based reimbursement and you think about customers, interoperability is really the intersection of that. It’s the ability for us to start acting like a team in healthcare, as opposed to everyone thinking they’re a track star.”
I think that it's both appropriate and gratifying for Bruce Broussard, the Humana CEO, to emphasize the need to start thinking about healthcare as a team effort rather than the sum of the efforts of individual "track stars." One could reasonably assume that Mr. Broussard would have more of a track star mentality, given his yearly compensation, reported by Bloomberg, of $10,155,401. However, I think that his idea is worthy of consideration. He says: information should flow freely and not be taxed or tolled. His quote does beg the question, however, as to what are the "team effort" characteristics required of healthcare professionals.
One of the qualities that may have been lost in recent years by some hospital executives, in my opinion, is the notion that healthcare is a "higher calling" and that success can't always be measured by P&L statements. I believe that the stratospheric compensation packages provided to some hospital executives can easily distort this higher calling. Hospital executives seem to me to be on an endless quest for higher profits to fuel their ever-increasing compensation packages (see: Hospital Entrepreneurship and the Salaries of Non-Profit Hospital Executives). I'll let you decide whether you believe that the executives managing hospitals should continue to pursue their entrepreneurial instincts at the risk of decreasing the quality of care.