Interoperability beyond doom or gloom

New survey shows health information exchange is on the rise.
By Diana Manos
10:10 AM
Putting puzzle pieces together

Despite the often-heard doom and gloom about interoperability, the reality of hospitals engaging in health information exchange appears to be brighter. 

HIE among U.S. non-federal acute care hospitals has been trending upward since 2008, in fact, and it took some major leaps forward in 2013. 

More than six in 10 hospitals -- 62 percent -- electronically exchanged health information with providers outside of their system during 2013, according to a new Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology data brief based on a  survey conducted by the American Hospital Association. What's more, the practice of HIE increased 51 percent from from 2008 to 2013. 

[See also: DeSalvo: Interoperability 'top priority'.]

The majority of hospitals -- 57 percent -- electronically exchanged health information with ambulatory providers outside of their system, representing a 58 percent increase since 2008. In addition, four in 10 hospitals electronically exchanged health information with hospitals outside of their system, representing a 167 percent increase since 2008.

In a May 5 blog, Matthew Swain, program analyst with the Office of Economic Analysis, Evaluation, and Modeling at ONC and co-author of the brief, wrote that this secure sharing of patients’ clinical information “is the first step toward broader interoperability.”

The types of information that hospitals exchanged was variable. While more than half of hospitals exchanged laboratory results -- 57 percent -- and radiology reports-- 55 percent -- with outside providers, fewer exchanged clinical care summaries -- 42 percent -- and medication history -- 37 percent, Swain wrote.

[See also: Lack of interoperability stalls progress.]

New analyses this year also show that only four in 10 hospitals could send and receive secure electronic messages containing patient health information to and from external systems, while more than half were able to electronically request and retrieve patient health information 

Health information exchange among hospitals varied across states. State rates of exchange with outside providers ranged from 38 percent to 100 percent. Clinical care summary exchange among hospitals with outside providers was highest in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. States with the lowest rates of exchange included Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.

This article was first published by Government Health IT, a sister publication of Healthcare IT News.

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