- A majority of hospitals used more than one electronic method to routinely exchange patient care summaries with external organizations in 2017 — 78% to send records and 61% to receive them, a new Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT analysis shows.
- Hospitals typically used health information service providers to exchange summary of care records. About seven in 10 hospitals were active in at least one national health information network, while about half participated in health information exchange organizations at both the national and state, regional or local level.
- Still, disparities in rates of participation exist. While two-thirds of small, rural and critical access hospitals participated in networks with a national scope, three-fourths of larger hospitals did. An even wider gap was seen in networks below the national level.
Moreover, while a third of hospitals used four or more methods to routinely receive patient care records, a fourth didn't use any electronic method at all. Among those that used electronic methods, most also used nonelectronic methods to send and receive summary of care records, according to the report.
It's not surprising that smaller and rural hospitals have lower rates of routine electronic record exchange. EHRs cost money and require IT expertise to use and maintain — both potential barriers to full interoperability.
Meanwhile, providers are still awaiting new rules detailing how HHS will prevent data hoarding via information blocking. The 21st Century Cures Act requires HHS to issue regulations to limit data blocking and identify "reasonable and necessary activities that don't constitute information blocking," and CMS Administrator Seema Verma has vowed to end the practice.
Other ONC findings include:
- Roughly one-fourth of hospitals used multi-EHR vendor networks to send and receive records, and a similar share used e-Health Exchange.
- About seven in 10 hospitals sent or received records using mail or fax.
- Hospitals that used five electronic methods were twice as likely to use electronic health data as hospitals with only one method.
- Nine in 10 hospitals that used six or more electronic methods to receive summary of care records had the information at point of care and used it to inform decisionmaking.
- Among hospitals that participated in a national network, Surescripts was the most subscribed to at 61%.