ASCO Urges Congress to Address EHR Interoperability and Information Blocking | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

ASCO Urges Congress to Address EHR Interoperability and Information Blocking

September 16, 2015
by Heather Landi
| Reprints

During a Sept. 15 Capitol Hill briefing, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) called on Congress to address problems with big data and interoperability of electronic health records (EHRs), specifically information blocking.

“The treatment of cancer is complex, often requiring coordination of care and the exchange of detailed clinical information among multiple health care providers using different health information systems,” ASCO President Julie Vose, MD, MBA, FASCO, said during the briefing. “Widespread interoperability for sharing electronic health information is not just a matter of efficiency, but critical for optimal cancer care. It is essential to help patients and physicians navigate the complex continuum from diagnosis through treatment and beyond.”

In a position statement released during the briefing, ASCO urged Congress to quickly pass legislation to ensure widespread interoperability is achieved and to remove barriers to data sharing, including passing mandates on the elimination of what the organization calls “unjustified information blocking.”

ASCO asserted that oncologists have observed “a growing trend in commercial business practices that are creating barriers to interoperability, including information blocking—the practice of knowingly and unreasonably interfering with the exchange or use of electronic health information.”

ASCO further stated, “Although some information-sharing challenges are related to legitimate measures taken to safeguard privacy and security, information-blocking schemes appear to be on the rise.”

In the position statement, the organization gave several examples of these barriers including per transaction fees for data exchange, refusals to build interfaces, proprietary exchange standards and even contractual requirements that give an EHR vendor exclusive license to use a provider’s data.

“These barriers not only impose unreasonable financial and administrative burdens on oncology practices, but also hinder big data efforts to promote rapid learning efforts, like CancerLinQ,” Robin Zon, MD, FACP, FASCO, said in the ASCO position statement, referring to the organization’s health information technology (HIT) data platform to improve care for cancer patients.  “The promise of EHRs will never be realized until we achieve interoperability and are able to share data in a safe and secure way.”

ASCO called on Congress to build on efforts currently underway to address the interoperability of EHR systems. The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, in July, which addresses interoperability. ASCO urged the Senate to take action as well.

ASCO also recommended that policymakers ensure that cancer patients, oncologists and other oncology providers do not bear the costs of ensuring interoperable EHRs through excessive fees for data exchange.


Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More



Congress really needs to act on this. There is no reason why patient medical history can not easily pass from one caregiver to another, insurance/lab/pharmacy data to where it needs to go. The catch is there has to be standards established and proper security including what has to be made freely available. This is not rocket science. One thing that would help is a national medical ID that is separate from/not derived from a financial ID (Social Security number). Make one organization resposible for generating, updating and not creating duplicate ID's that all licensed healthcare providers can access.


ONC Roundup: Senior Leadership Changes Spark Questions

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has continued to experience changes within its upper leadership, leading some folks to again ponder what the health IT agency’s role will be moving forward.

Media Report: Walmart Hires Former Humana Executive to Run Health Unit

Reigniting speculation that Walmart and insurer Humana are exploring ways to forge a closer partnership, Walmart Inc. has hired a Humana veteran to run its health care business, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Value-Based Care Shift Has Halted, Study Finds

A new study of 451 physicians and health plan executives suggests that progress toward value-based care has stalled. In fact, it may have even taken a step backward over the past year, the research revealed.

Study: EHRs Tied with Lower Hospital Mortality, But Only After Systems Have Matured

Over the past decade, there has been significant national investment in electronic health record (EHR) systems at U.S. hospitals, which was expected to result in improved quality and efficiency of care. However, evidence linking EHR adoption to better care is mixed, according to medical researchers.

Nursing Notes Can Help Predict ICU Survival, Study Finds

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario have found that sentiments in healthcare providers’ nursing notes can be good indicators of whether intensive care unit (ICU) patients will survive.

Health Catalyst Completes Acquisition of HIE Technology Company Medicity

Salt Lake City-based Health Catalyst, a data analytics company, has completed its acquisition of Medicity, a developer of health information exchange (HIE) technology, and the deal adds data exchange capabilities to Health Catalyst’s data, analytics and decision support solutions.