Report Finds Paper-Based Strategies Still a Critical Element to Successful Healthcare Information Exchange

HIMSS Analytics recently released a new report on the barriers, challenges and opportunities of healthcare information exchange (HIE). The report, sponsored by ASG, examines the current state of information exchange among U.S. hospitals and explores the opportunities for improving the collection and exchange of patient data.

Survey respondents – 157 senior hospital information technology (IT) executives – indicated that there are two major challenges in the collection and sharing of patient information despite high levels of HIE participation:

More than 70 percent of respondents reported that their organization was part of a HIO, meaning that they participate in HIE with other hospitals and health systems. Approximately half of those respondents also reported improved access to patient information. However, the benefit did not result in robust data sharing, as 49 percent of the respondents cited this as the primary challenge to sharing patient information.

“Based on high participation numbers, hospitals clearly understand the value of electronic sharing of health-related information among organizations and the important role it can play in improving the speed, quality, safety and cost of patient care,” said Jennifer Horowitz, senior director of research for HIMSS Analytics. “But meaningful engagement between healthcare organizations and easy ways to share patient information, both in paper and electronic formats, still remain a challenge. We hope this new report will shed light on those issues and help IT professionals integrate their HIE strategies with their output/print environments.”

Additional data exchange difficulties were reported in the modes by which facilities integrate faxed and scanned documents into EHRs for data exchange, or output/print strategies. Key findings include: 

In most instances, faxing was only one part of a broader strategy for sharing patient information. Furthermore, respondents were concerned with strategies that relied heavily on faxing, with 22 percent indicating that meaningful use would have a high impact on this mode of HIE.

“The number one barrier to developing the ideal, integrated HIE and output/printing strategy is the fact that it falls to such a low priority in comparison to other strategic efforts,” said Theresa Kollath, vice president of information management line of business for ASG Software Solutions. “We are thrilled to see that HIMSS has addressed the impotance of aligning both the electronic and paper record sharing systems in the study and is encouraging healthcare organizations to evaluate their overall strategy accordingly.”

To see the full report, visit: http://www.himssanalytics.org/research/AssetDetail.aspx?pubid=82108&tid=127.

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