There are many broken things about the U.S. health care system. But one of the biggest and most overlooked problems is that patients still find it too hard to share their medical information between doctors, especially those working in different hospitals.
It's a huge problem for many reasons: It makes it harder for consumers to access the highest-quality care, and new patients who walk into a hospital are like strangers — care-givers won't know if they have an allergy or a chronic disease.
Some of the largest technology companies in the world are undertaking a new effort to fix that. And they have a good reason to do it, as the lack of open standards around health data is a huge barrier for them to get into the $3 trillion health system.
On Monday, Alphabet, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and Salesforce spoke out at an event in Washington D.C. called the Blue Button 2.0 Developer conference. These companies are rivals in some important ways, so it's a strong signal that they came together on this issue.
Here's the joint statement:
We are jointly committed to removing barriers for the adoption of technologies for healthcare interoperability, particularly those that are enabled through the cloud and AI. We share the common quest to unlock the potential in healthcare data, to deliver better outcomes at lower costs.
To address the problem, these tech companies are proposing to build tools for the health community around a set of common standards for exchanging health information electronically, called "FHIR."