"If we can get EMRs to be built onto the exchange, then we simply have to write basically two interfaces -- one for sending and one for receiving information. That's a huge first step in simplifying the process of exchanging medical information," Kazarian said.
Kazarian also said that because the healthcare industry is deliberating over what standards it will select for data transfer, a lot of the ability to exchange medical information has been stalled.
"That has put a screeching halt to things. What the exchange is saying is let's start by getting the information flow going electronically, and then, once we can begin to establish those electronic delivery standards, we can then start to do a better job of standardizing what we are sending," Kazarian said.
Verizon executives also said the exchange is preparing for the day when the industry will have settled on clinical data transport standards, EMRs will be much more pervasive at medical facilities, and health information exchanges will be further along in their development, in anticipation of the more than 30 million individuals that will enroll in health insurance plans over the next five to 10 years.
In the meantime, Verizon said it continues to sign on new members to the expanded exchange. These include Alert Notification, a personalized emergency notification and health records provider; Amaji, a provider of digital clinical documentation services; NLP International, a provider of natural language processing software; Tolven, a provider of open-source health informatics software solutions; and ZyDoc Medical Transcription, a provider of medical knowledge-management solutions.
These members join the founding members of the group, which include Verizon; ICSA Labs, an independent division of Verizon Business; the Medical Transcription Industry Association; and medical transcription companies MD-IT, MedQuist, MxSecure, Sten-Tel, and Webmedx.
In addition, the Medical Transcription Service Consortium, which was created to support the operation of the exchange, has been renamed to reflect the consortium's expanded mission and focus. The new name for the group is the Medical Data Exchange Consortium. ICSA Labs continues to play a key role in managing the consortium and its activities as a neutral third party.