Information systems such as Hospital Information systems, Laboratory Information systems, Pharmacy Information systems, Radiology and other related imaging systems and other specialty medical information systems need a mandated federal standard for exchanging patient data which will allow the creation, exchange and management of a Virtual Electronic Medical Record for patients.
Without basic technological standards one could not call from one county to the next, but because there are properly implemented standards and exchange systems one can call almost anywhere in the world with ease. But those standards took a hundred years to evolve. By comparison, the internet, based on tcp and http protocols evolved in less than a decade, because every vendor had a standard from which to build. Meanwhile, I often can't get my data from one section of the hospital, much less between hospitals, because there is no accepted, agreed upon, and implemented protocol for the exchange of medical information.
Every vendor has a proprietary data exchange format and a business model that supports vendor 'lock in.' While that may be good from a business model, it is a disaster for modern medicine. And the additional time and expense of trying to maintain these disparate systems just continues to add to the cost of healthcare. Both hospitals and vendors need to embrace the reality of the need for implementation of good informatics practices in hospitals and clinics.
Medical practices and ethics should supersede business ethics in every situation where software and/or devices are used in medical care. You don't see incompatible medical hardware surviving long in the industry. A needle has to fit a syringe, an IV tube needs to fit a bag, and they do because of standardization. Yet medical software vendors continue to ignore the need for data interchange standards that will support a truly portable Virtual Electronic Medical Record.