AHA Report Highlights Substantial Barriers to Provider Interoperability | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

AHA Report Highlights Substantial Barriers to Provider Interoperability

October 12, 2015
by Heather Landi
| Reprints

While hospitals are investing more in health information technology (HIT), a lack of interoperability among electronic systems is among the most pressing issues facing healthcare stakeholders today, according to a recently released report from the American Hospital Association (AHA).

The report highlights the significant strides hospitals have made in recent years in the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), as 75 percent of hospitals employ at least a basic EHR, up from only 9 percent in 2008. The AHA estimates that, between 2010 and 2013, hospitals spent $47 billion annually on HIT.

However, while many hospitals are able to use their current EHR for some information exchange activities that promote interoperability, such as finding, sending or receiving information, only 23 percent of hospitals can do all four information exchange activities (find, send, receive and use). And, only 40 percent of hospitals can use the information they receiving, meaning that the records are integrated into the hospital’s EHR without the need for manual data entry.

“EHRs have become a critical part of the infrastructure needed to improve care coordination, engage patients and improve public health. However, the nation is still a very long way from fully tying them together to help providers meaningfully use information at the point of care to help patients get better and save money. This lack of interoperability is costly to patients, taxpayers, hospitals and others,” according to the authors of the AHA report.

 The report cites a Premier, Inc. and eHealth Initiative survey of accountable care organizations (ACOs) in which 95 percent of organizations surveyed cited interoperability as a major obstacle to effectively using and meeting the potential of health IT.

The AHA report also says that the lack of interoperability across healthcare providers is a barrier to advancing patient engagement and it also impedes reporting of public health, quality and safety data.

Confronted with poor interoperability, hospitals typically build or license interfaces to import and export data from both internal and external sources, such as the hospital’s EHR, lab, admit/discharge/transfer, medical devices as well as outside labs. According to the AHA report, this means that a single hospital may employ a few dozen interfaces, while a large health system with many sites can employ hundreds or even thousands of interfaces.

“Truman Medical Centers, a two-hospital, 600- bed, not-for-profit health care system in Kan­sas City, Mo., has more than 55 connections to external organizations with which it must interface to transmit health data information, according to Mitzi Cardenas, senior vice president for Strategy, Business Development and Technology. Cardenas estimates that the average cost of an interface is $10,000 to $20,000,” wrote the authors of the report.

Some hospitals also have turned to HIEs to overcome interoperability barriers, yet the costs of building interfaces and questions about the self-sufficiency of HIEs when federal grants end are significant challenges, cites the report.

And, looking ahead, as provides move toward implementation of care coordination models, far more complicated interfaces will be necessary to accommodate data exchange.

“Hospitals have tried to overcome interoperability barriers through the use of interfaces and HIEs but they are, at best, costly workarounds and, at worst, mechanisms that will never get the coun­try to true interoperability. While standards are part of the solution, they are still not specified enough to make them truly work,” the report states. “Clearly, much work remains, including steps by the federal government to support advances in interoper­ability. Until that happens, patients across the country will be shortchanged from the benefits of truly connected care.”

 

Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More

Topics

News

Advocate Aurora Health, Foxconn Plan Employee Wellness, “Smart City,” and Precision Medicine Collaboration

Wisconsin-based Advocate Aurora Health is partnering with Foxconn Health Technology Business Group, a Taiwanese company, to develop new technology-driven healthcare services and tools.

Healthcare Data Breach Costs Remain Highest at $408 Per Record

The cost of a data breach for healthcare organizations continues to rise, from $380 per record last year to $408 per record this year, as the healthcare industry also continues to incur the highest cost for data breaches compared to any other industry, according to a new study from IBM Security and the Ponemon Institute.

Morris Leaves ONC to Lead VA Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization

Genevieve Morris, who has been detailed to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from her position as the principal deputy national coordinator for the Department of Health and Human Services, will move over full time to lead the newly establishment VA Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization.

Cedars-Sinai Accelerator Program Presents Fourth Class of Startups

The Cedars-Sinai Accelerator, a program that helps entrepreneurs bring their innovative technology products to market, has brought in nine more health tech startups as part of its fourth class.

DirectTrust Adds Five Board Members

DirectTrust, a nonprofit organization that support health information exchange, announced the appointment of five new executives to its board of directors.

Analysis: Many States Continue to Have Restrictive Telemedicine Policies

State Medicaid programs are evolving to accelerate the adoption of telemedicine models, this evolution is occurring more quickly in some states than others, according to a recent analysis by Manatt Health.