HealthDay News — Interoperability of electronic health record (EHR) systems is a national priority of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, according to an article in Medical Economics.

Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, the newly appointed National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, called on health information professionals to work collaboratively to build a truly interoperable EHR system at a recent Health Information Management Systems Society 2014 conference in Orlando, Fla.

Such a system is necessary to improve care, better the experience for patients and reduce costs. Although EHR adoption has been widespread, the systems’ scale, interface and interoperability are all still in need of work.

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Captured data remains in silos, according to DeSalvo. Data needs to be more free, yet secure, in order to make users’ experience better and to make transmission more seamless.

If the right policy standards and regulations are in place, national interoperability can be achieved in a way that truly benefits patient safety and care quality, while recognizing better value in health care delivery.

“We have made impressive progress on our infrastructure, but we have not reached our shared vision of having this interoperable system where data can be exchanged and meaningfully used to improve care,” DeSalvo said at the conference.