Tech industry giants vow support for healthcare interoperability

Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce have pledged to work to advance open standards to enable healthcare interoperability.

The tech companies made the joint announcement to coincide with their participation in Monday’s Blue Button 2.0 Developer Conference at the White House. The Blue Button 2.0 application programming interface leverages the FHIR standard from HL7, enabling Medicare beneficiaries to share their claims data with third-party apps.

“IBM believes that patients should have access to their data, and the flexibility to use products and services across different healthcare systems, with confidence that they all are working seamlessly for their care,” said Mark Dudman, head of global product and AI development at IBM Watson Health. “We are proud to participate in this pledge and look forward to working with industry and the developer community to ensure appropriate access to data and the use of that data to support vibrant communities and solve health challenges for people everywhere.”

In March, CMS announced the launch of the Blue Button 2.0 API as part of the MyHealthEData initiative, an effort to put patients in control of their own healthcare information.

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Also See: CMS launches Blue Button 2.0 to free up claims data

The six tech leaders issued a joint statement in which they committed themselves to the adoption of healthcare interoperability technologies, particularly those enabled through the cloud and artificial intelligence.

Specifically, the vendors have made the following “foundational assumptions” to guide their efforts:

  • The frictionless exchange of healthcare data, with appropriate permissions and controls, will lead to better patient care, higher user satisfaction, and lower costs across the entire health ecosystem.
  • Healthcare data interoperability, to be successful, must account for the needs of all global stakeholders, empowering patients, healthcare providers, payers, app developers, device and pharmaceuticals manufacturers, employers, researchers, citizen scientists, and many others who will develop, test, refine, and scale the deployment of new tools and services.
  • Open standards, open specifications and open source tools are essential to facilitate frictionless data exchange. This requires a variety of technical strategies and ongoing collaboration for the industry to converge and embrace emerging standards for healthcare data interoperability, such as HL7 FHIR and the Argonaut Project.
  • We understand that achieving frictionless health data exchange is an ongoing process, and we commit to actively engaging among open source and open standards communities for the development of healthcare standards, and conformity assessment to foster agility to account for the accelerated pace of innovation.

“Today’s announcement will be a catalyst to creating better health outcomes for patients at a lower cost,” said Dean Garfield, president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, a Washington-based trade association that represents companies from the IT industry. “As transformative technologies like cloud computing and artificial intelligence continue to advance, it is important that we work towards creating partnerships that embrace open standards and interoperability.”

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