ONC: EHR Adoption is Up, Interoperability Measures are Behind

While eligible provider participation in the “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Program is robust, participants’ ability to exchange health information with other providers has been lackluster, according to an annual report from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).

The ONC’s report to Congress, released on October 9, noted that as of June 2014, more than 403,000 professionals, representing 75 percent of the nation’s eligible professionals, have received incentive payments through the meaningful use program. Additionally, over 4,500 hospitals—representing 92 percent of eligible hospitals, including critical access hospitals—have received incentive payments through this program to date.

However, when it comes to being able to share the patient information gathered through the incentive programs, providers are struggling.

According to ONC, 42 percent of hospitals electronically shared clinical care summaries outside their systems, an increase by 68 percent since 2008. Fifty-five percent of hospitals shared radiology reports outside of their systems, and 57 percent shared laboratory reports. Four in ten physicians reported electronically sharing any patient health information with other providers, with 14 percent indicating that they share patient information with any providers outside their organization.

“Electronic health information is not yet sufficiently standardized to allow seamless interoperability, as it is still inconsistently expressed through technical and medical vocabulary, structure, and format, thereby limiting the potential uses of the information to improve health and care,” the report says.

To increase EHR adoption and improve interoperability, the report emphasized the need for standards, including actions such as:

  • Promoting existing technical standards and developing new standards critical to the development and success of an operational and connected health system
  • Supporting, advising, and collaborating with states and communities to drive local healthcare solutions
  • Increasing the number of health IT workforce professionals that can facilitate the implementation and support of an electronic health care system

Click here to read the full report.

 

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