The majority of hospitals do not engage in the electronic exchange of health information, according to the findings of a study by researchers from the University of Michigan and Harvard University.
This finding is despite strong federal policies being designed to encourage these exchanges and a substantial investment in health IT, say the study’s authors, Julia Adler-Milstein from the University of Michigan and Ashish K. Jha, of Harvard. The study, “Health information exchange among U.S. hospitals: who’s in, who’s out, and why?” appears in the current issue of the quarterly publication Healthcare, the Journal of Delivery Science and Innovation.
The researchers found that only 30 percent of U.S. hospitals engaged in health information exchange (HIE) with unaffiliated providers. There was large variation in state-level participation, with some states achieving more than 70 percent participation (Rhode Island, Delaware and Vermont) and others with minimal participation.
In markets where exchange occurred, for-profit hospitals were far less likely to engage in HIE than non-profit hospitals. Hospitals with a larger market share were more likely to engage in exchange, as were hospitals in less competitive markets, the research found.
The authors’ conclusion is that despite an uptick in hospital HIE participation since the start of HITECH, the majority of hospitals still do not engage in HIE and there is large state-to-state variation. Specific types of hospitals appear to feel that they are better off not engaging in HIE.
Stronger policies and incentives may be necessary to convince organizations to share their data electronically, the study says. The authors state that, “Pursuing these is critical to ensuring that the highly anticipated quality and efficiency gains from our large national investment in health information technology are realized.”