Although health data standards are perceived to be the essential solution for interoperability barriers within medical IT systems, the level of adoption of those standards still remains frustratingly low. Little is known about the barriers facing their adoption within the healthcare organizations context. In addressing this gap in the literature, based on IT related standards adoption theories such as Diffusion of Innovation Theory and the theories surrounding the Economics of Standards, a qualitative multiple-case study was undertaken in Saudi Arabia to investigate those barriers. The results exposed that few standards were adopted because of four broad reasons, managerial, technical, educational and governmental. While some of the findings can be rooted to those related standards theories, others can be underpinned through the normative literature. Core barriers are the lack of a national regulator and a data exchange plan, and the lack of an adequate policy regarding medical IT systems and information management and national healthcare system; also important are technical barriers and the switching costs to the standards. The outcome of this study can be used in forming effective interventions when planning to use health data standards and, in particular those in developing countries.