Physicians point to business case for HIE

A majority of physicians now say that a business case for the electronic exchange of health information across all care settings is becoming evident because they believe it will have a positive impact on healthcare.

The recognition of the need for health information exchange is arising in part because it is an essential element in stage 2 of the meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs) and in many of the payment system reforms that are being tested, according to former Sen. Bill Frist, MD, who was previously Senate majority leader, and is now co-leader of the health project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, at an Oct. 3 briefing.

[See also: Bipartisan Policy Center calls for more, better health IT]

Now that physicians are adopting EHRs, electronically sharing health information is the next logical step to improve patient care. But major hurdles block the exchange of health data.

“An overwhelming majority of more than 70 percent clinicians surveyed believe that the lack of interoperability and exchange infrastructure and the cost associated with those are major barriers to realizing this. Stage 2 of meaningful use in 2014 lays the foundation for increased interoperability of exchanges, particularly related to transitions of care,” Frist said.

The center released two companion reports on “Clinician Perspectives on Electronic Health Information Sharing for Transitions of Care” and “Accelerating Electronic Information Sharing to Improve Quality and Reduce Costs in Health Care.” 

[See also: Most hospitals still seeking HIE solutions, study finds]

Dr. Farzad Mostashari, the national health IT coordinator, said that the report reflects the views he has heard in meeting with physicians across the country on health information exchange.

“The report, the way it starts off, the first finding is dead-on, in terms of the centrality of every conversation we’re having, that a business case is emerging,” he said at the briefing.

According to the survey, physicians also would like to have a standard set of information shared with them when a patient is discharged from a hospital or changes in other care settings and to be able to query for other data.  

The survey polled clinicians about their needs and preferences regarding electronic health information: what type of information they want in various care transitions and how quickly.

Relevant lab and imaging tests ranked high among all physicians as the type of information they want across the board. But other data, like discharge summary, reason for referral and summary of care provided, are critical across transitions, said Janet Marchibroda, chair of the center’s health IT initiative and long-time health IT expert.

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