- Electronic availability of patient health information from outside sources increased by 10% in 2018, resulting in more than half of hospitals having EHR information available at point of care, according to a report from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. But most hospitals still rely on a mix of both physical and electronic records.
- About 10% of hospitals said they exclusively use electronic methods for sending and receiving summary of care records, while almost 25% said they still rely on non-electronic methods. About 70% of hospitals surveyed said they continued to use mail or fax for sending and receiving summary of care records in 2018.
- The most frequently cited barrier among respondents was exchanging data across different EHR vendor platforms. More than 60% of hospitals reported difficulty finding providers' addresses and more than half had trouble matching or identifying correct patients between systems.
Providers are increasingly using patient health information received electronically from outside sources, according to the ONC report, although seamlessly sharing that data remains a challenge. Cost barriers are also an issue.
In 2018, about six in 10 hospitals reported often or sometimes using patient health information they electronically received through EHRs. Among hospitals that rarely or never used electronically received information, one-third reported that information was not presented in a useful format and one-fifth said information was difficult to find.
On average, hospitals used two methods for finding patients' health information electronically; most often through a Health Information Service Provider, through a state, regional or local health information network or through a national network.
About six in 10 hospitals reported using a Health Information Service Provider to send summary of care records, making it the most popular method for sending and receiving summary of care records electronically in 2017 and 2018.
Most hospitals participated in one national health network in 2018, and about one-third participated in more than one. These include provider portal, direct access to EHRs, and multi-EHR vendor networks to electronically find patient health information. About one-fifth participated in CommonWell Health Alliance, DirectTrust and Carequality.
Rural providers were less likely to participate in national networks, with a 14 percentage point difference in participation in national networks by medium and large hospitals compared to small hospitals with 100 beds or less.
Almost half of hospitals used state, regional or local HIOs to electronically find or query patient health information from outside sources. Use of HIOs and single EHR vendor networks for receiving summary of care records significantly increased from 2017 to 2018.
The push for interoperability, however, has proven costly for healthcare organizations, and was a frequently cited barrier among study respondents.
Spending on developing customized interfaces to electronically exchange health information and additional costs to exchange data with outside providers were cited by about four in 10 hospitals.