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Majority of Healthcare Organizations Struggling with EHR Interoperability

A recent survey from Black Book Market Research has highlighted what hospital administrators and physicians know all too well. Great strides may have been made toward a fully interoperable healthcare system, but important medical data is still not accessible. There are still many problems getting hold of electronic health record data and making it accessible to the people who need it most.

Many EHR systems do not have the required connectivity. Even when data from healthcare providers’ EHR systems does get sent to other providers, the data are often in an unusable or difficult to use format.

3,391 users of EHRs were surveyed for the Black Book survey. 25% of respondents said they are unable to use any data sent by other healthcare providers, while 22% of surveyed hospital administrators said they receive medical record data from other healthcare organizations in a format that does not allow data to be easily incorporated into their own EHR systems. 70% of hospitals were not using external EHR information because the data were missing from their systems’ workflow.

Receiving data in a useful format is a problem, but so is sharing data with other providers that do not use the same EHR system. 41% of respondents said they struggle with sharing data with other healthcare providers, especially if they were using a different EHR system. 82% of independent physician practices said they were not certain they had the necessary technology or connectivity to bear the financial burden of quality payment programming.

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The financial pressures under the Medicare Quality Payment Program are likely to force many smaller physician practices to look at mergers with larger integrated healthcare providers. 63% of independent physician practices said they were considering merging with larger providers for financial and reimbursement reasons, while 92% of hospital executives believed many physician and post-acute care providers would merge with larger providers in 2017 due to the financial pressures under the Quality Payment Program.

EHR systems that enabled data to be easily shared with other healthcare organizations are essential for population health management for value-based reimbursement. EHR providers that offer systems with the required degree of connectivity – for example those that use the HL7’s FHIR specification – may be preferable, yet many physician groups lack the finances to purchase those systems. Even when cost is not an issue, physician groups often lack the technical expertise to implement those EHR systems. That means they are unable to attain the higher reimbursements by public and private payers, according to managing partner of Black Book, Doug Brown.

While many healthcare organizations continue to struggle with interoperability due to their EHR systems and those used by other providers, the Black Book survey showed that at least some inpatient systems for medium and large-sized hospitals were performing well.

Part of the survey asked EHR users to rate their providers, allowing Black Book to compile a list of the top EHR vendors. According to users’ responses, the top EHR vendors were:

Black Book Top EHR Vendors

  • Evident CPSI (small/rural hospitals with fewer than 100 beds)
  • Cerner (Community hospitals with 101-250 beds)
  • Allscripts (medical centers with 250+ beds)
  • Cerner (Hospital chains, Hospital systems, and integrated delivery networks)

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.