Healthcare News & Insights

Survey: Many hospitals haven’t done an HIE readiness assessment

Healthcare organizations recognize the importance of exchanging patient data to improve care. But a new survey says many providers aren’t ready to implement health information exchanges (HIEs). 

We recently detailed some of the challenges of implementing health information exchanges (HIEs) keeping providers from participating despite the benefits. The primary obstacles included the lack of interoperability between the different software providers use for electronic health records (EHRs), as well as the cost of maintaining HIE systems and the infrastructure required to support exchanges.

HIEs are designed so that providers can share information about patients to coordinate care when patients transfer, reduce duplicate tests and access the patient’s complete care record to make better informed decisions. In order for exchanges to work to their full potential, that means enough providers have to use them so that the information contained is complete.

In that regard, a recent survey from the ECRI Institute has some mixed news about the near-term success of health information exchanges. First the good news: 97% of the hospitals surveyed said their senior leadership recognizes the importance of a timely exchange of digital health information, and 93% agree that implementing HIEs was one of their organization’s top strategic priorities.

However, fewer providers have taken steps to actually implement exchanges. In fact, nearly half (46%) of the hospitals surveyed have yet to assess what steps they need to take to improve interoperability with other providers in their communities. In addition, just 24% “strongly agreed” that their EHR system shares data with other EHRs outside of the organization. Another 38% partially agreed, indicating many organizations may not be sure whether their systems can share health information.

The ECRI Institute warns that organizations must thoroughly assess their systems’ capabilities to exchange data. As the survey shows, providers are getting ready to adopt exchanges, and there will be even more of a push soon because organizations will be hit with Medicare penalties next year if they fail to exchange care summaries with other providers.

And implementing an HIE without assessing readiness first can lead to expensive and dangerous problems, including missing patient data. Providers must not only verify that they have the ability to share patient records, test results and other data, but also that their systems effectively protect and security patient information.

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