There’s lots of industry talk these days about sharing healthcare data online and the benefits of payers, providers and patients all having centralized access to electronic medical records.

But the prominent CEO of New York’s biggest healthcare system—Dr. Steven Corwin, CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System—does not see universal data access and data sharing happening anytime soon.

Speaking this morning as part of a panel discussion at the World Healthcare Congress 2017 in Washington, D.C., Corwin says NewYork Presbyterian is replacing three disparate electronic health records systems with one comprehensive system.

“When it comes to connectivity (and universal electronic access to patient data), the healthcare system has overpromised and underdelivered,” Corwin told attendees.

NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare is a network of independent, cooperating, acute-care and community hospitals, continuum-of-care facilities, home health agencies, ambulatory sites and specialty institutes in the New York metropolitan area.

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NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, along with Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, run the system, which conducts more than 2.5 million outpatient visits annually.

But because NewYork-Presbyterian didn’t see a way to integrate its various disparate electronic health records systems to share data inside the health system, NewYork-Presbyterian started over and is consolidating all three sets of software onto a single system from Epic Systems.

“We are putting in a single system and layering everything on top of that,” Corwin told attendees. “What we had before looked like spaghetti wire.”

NewYork-Presbyterian has an ambitious goal of reducing the total number of electronic connections among various organizations such as doctor groups and insurers from 6,000 connections to 3,000 within two years.

But that reduction in electronic linkages only provides better online data connectivity inside the NewYork-Presbyterian system—it does not facilitate more widespread data sharing with the broader healthcare market, Corwin says. “As an industry we have somehow created the fallacy that these (internet) pipes are connected,” he told attendees.

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The major organizations in the healthcare system—including hospitals, health systems and insurers— don’t have sufficient incentive to make the investments necessary to exchange patient data. “We really aren’t making much progress on collaboration,” he told attendees.

Despite what Corwin calls talk from electronic health records vendors that their systems are becoming more open, universal connectivity is still tough to pull off at NewYork-Presbyterian.

“We still can’t just toggle back and forth between systems,” Corwin says. “It also isn’t just electronic health records systems—EHRs only represent 40% to 50% of the data across all of our systems.”

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