Many critical of our healthcare data infrastructure point out that ‘data blocking‘ is a barrier to interoperability. This is where the vendor holding EHR data either directly or indirectly makes it difficult to impossible to share data. Vendors say that purposeful data blocking is not common while others say that providers are more at fault as they don’t want to share data that would assist a patient in leaving their practice.
Besides interrupting the continuum of patient care, data blocking has another ramification, as this article from Politico points out. For decades specialty societies have collected data into registries that seek to track patients and their outcomes over time. Often registry submission of data is a requirement of accreditation for a provider or the participation in registry reporting is a strongly encouraged practice. The benefit to participation is that specialty societies can then mine the data to look for national trends in treatment outcomes and use that to drive changes in care practices. This is an important surveillance activity that keeps healthcare safe and innovative, which unfortunately clashes with murky intellectual property constraints within some EHR vendor contracts.