At last week's Federal Trade Commission workshop on healthcare competition held in Washington, industry stakeholders warned that the proliferation of closed data networks are trapping providers and patients into proprietary networks that are barriers to interoperability and competition. Specifically, they charged that some health systems block patient information sharing in ways that have antitrust implications.

"When the government comes with a check and subsidizes the purchase of a system that deliberately does not interoperate, does not communicate with other vendors, the government is effectively perpetuating and supporting that phenomenon," said Dan Haley, athenahealth's vice president of government and regulatory affairs. "When the government comes and says we will issue blanket antitrust scrutiny waivers for entities that create ACOs and we will put on the blinders as those entities purchase and implement closed system technologies in an effort to make their networks 'sticky' and consolidate market share, government is perpetuating this problem."

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