HIMSS Analytics Report on Health Data Interoperability Shows Progress Despite Challenges Often Outside Hospitals’ Control

A focus group of hospital and health system executives said interoperability is a top priority and a key driver for continued organization growth and improved patient care

Dallas, Texas – Feb. 13, 2014 – Despite frustration over a lack of standardization and readiness of external entities, hospitals are making significant strides toward meeting the government’s meaningful use requirements, according to a new report from HIMSS Analytics. The information in the report, titled “Current State of Health Data Interoperability in the U.S.: Trends, Challenges and Strategies for Success,” was compiled from a January 2014 focus group of healthcare executives.

Focus group participants represented hospitals ranging in size from 275 beds to 722 beds. The report was funded by Corepoint Health.

“With the many positive changes unfolding in our health care system, hurdles remain. Data exchange is a necessity to gain the next level of efficiency, quality, and patient engagement,” said Jon Mertz, vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. “As we heard from the report, while health IT professionals are frustrated with the progress, they are progressive in finding ways to leverage their IT investments and create a useful, secure exchange of patient data.”

Key findings in the report include frustrations over the readiness of external data exchange partners, including health information exchange (HIE) organizations and other provider organizations. One participant said his organization cannot exchange continuity of care documents (CCDs) with their statewide HIE because the HIE is unable to use them, despite the fact that they are a requirement in the government’s Meaningful Use program, a key component in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

To overcome interoperability challenges, many hospital executives in the focus group said they are creating their own private, or enterprise-level, HIE to create interoperability among their business partners. According to the report, these hospitals claim private HIEs are a more reliable method to coordinate patient care and leverage their interoperability investments.

According to the report, private HIEs are becoming more valuable as their healthcare systems are expanding in size due to mergers and acquisitions of community hospitals. To make interoperability easier, hospitals are buying clinics and incorporating them into the systems’ electronic health record systems.

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