A number of tech giants have renewed their commitment to supporting interoperability in healthcare.

Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Salesforce made the announcement in August 2018 and all signed up to take steps to advance data-sharing standards.

A year later and the six companies have reaffirmed this commitment, also sharing their plans and progress at the CMS Blue Button 2.0 Developer Conference on 30 July in Washington D.C, USA.

In the joint pledge, the companies say that “too often” patient data is “inconsistently formatted, incomplete, unavailable, or missing – which can limit access to the best possible care”

The joint statement adds: “Interoperability requires the ability to share clinical information across systems, networks and care providers.

“Barriers to data interoperability sit at the core of many process problems.

“We believe that better interoperability will unlock improvements in individual and population-level care coordination, delivery and management.”

The companies have also pledged their support to proposed rules from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the USA.

The rules focus on the use of HL7’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) as an open standard for electronically exchanging healthcare information.

“As a technology community, we believe that a forward-thinking API strategy, as outlined in the proposed rules, will advance the ability for all organisations to build and deploy novel applications to the benefit of patients, care providers, and administrators alike,” the statement added.

Advances in interoperability over the past year were also highlighted by the six companies.

This included open-source software releases, development of new standards and implementation guides, and deployment of services that support proposed federal interoperability mandates.

The issue of interoperability in healthcare dominated Digital Health Intelligence’s 2019 NHS IT Leadership survey as it was cited as the highest priority for NHS IT Leaders for a second year in a row.

It was identified as the number one concern by 78% of NHS IT leaders who took part in the survey, slightly down from 84% in 2018.