In most regions of China, Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems in hospitals are developed in an uncoordinated manner. Medical Insurance and Healthcare Administration are localised and organizations gather data from a functional management viewpoint without consideration of wider information sharing. Discontinuity of data resources is serious. Despite the government’s repeated emphasis on EMR data integration, little progress has been made, causing inconvenience to patients, but also significantly hindering data mining.
This exploratory investigation used a case study to identify bottlenecks of data integration and proposes countermeasures. Interviews were carried out with 27 practitioners from central and provincial governments, hospitals, and related enterprises in China. This research shows that EMR data collection without patients’ authorization poses a major hazard to data integration. In addition, non-uniform information standards and hospitals’ unwillingness to share data are also significant obstacles to integration. Moreover, friction caused by the administrative decentralization, as well as unsustainability of public finance investment, also hinders the integration of data resources.
To solve these problems, first, a protocol should be adopted for multi-stakeholder participation in data collection. Administrative authorities should then co-establish information standards and a data audit mechanism. Finally, measures are proposed for expanding data integration for multiplying effectiveness and adopting the Public-Private Partnerships model.