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Paper, Fax Still Prevalent in Data Exchange, Report Finds

September 24, 2013
by Rajiv Leventhal
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More than 70 percent of senior hospital IT executives reported that their organization was part of a health information exchange organization (HIO), although many facilities reported difficulties in exchanging patient information in robust, meaningful ways, according to a recent Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Analytics report.

Approximately half of those respondents also reported improved access to patient information, although the benefit did not result in robust data sharing—49 percent of the respondents cited this as the primary challenge to sharing patient information. Respondents indicated sharing information outside of HIOs is constrained by budget limitations and staffing resources.

The report, which included responses from 157 executives, examined the current state of information exchange among U.S. hospitals, and explored the opportunities for improving the collection and exchange of patient data. Other key findings included:

  • 64 percent of the HIOs reported that sharing data with hospitals not participating in an HIO was conducted via fax
  • 63 percent of the same HIOs processed faxed information into an electronic format via scanning
  • 84 percent of respondents directly integrated their output/print environment with their EMR/HIS system
  • 42 percent of respondents characterized their output/print environment as “high effort”

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.

“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,” Jennifer Horowitz, senior director of research for HIMSS Analytics, said in a statement. “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.”

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