Study: HITECH Act Boosted EHR Use, Misses Mark with Interoperability | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

Study: HITECH Act Boosted EHR Use, Misses Mark with Interoperability

September 22, 2015
by Heather Landi
| Reprints

Significant policy changes, such as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, have advanced the adoption of health information technology (HIT), but, so far, these efforts have missed the overall goal of creating an interoperable healthcare system, according to a recent report from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The study, entitled Health Information Technology in the United States, 2015: Transition to a Post-HITECH World, was developed by RWJF along with researchers from Mathematica and Harvard School of Public Health and University of Michigan, School of Information.

According to the report, the HITECH Act, which was passed as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, helped to initiate significant progress with regard to the adoption and use of HIT in the United States, yet, “in general, it fell short of achieving its overarching goals to establish a highly effective and efficient health care system enabled by the advanced use of HIT.”

The report reviewed the “highlights and milestones of the past eight years,” including the implementation of the HITECH Act, and also projects its future effects on the healthcare industry.

“Overall, the ambitious goals of HITECH, while optimistic, overlooked barriers that were beyond the scope of the legislation and the programs it authorized. As the nation continues on the path to optimize the use of HIT, successes, barriers, and lessons learned through the HITECH cooperative agreement programs will continue to shape these efforts,” the report states.

Among the key findings in the report, researchers found that appropriately three-quarters of hospitals have at least a basic electronic health record (EHR) system, which represents a significant increase from the prior year, and 66 percent of hospitals reported exchanging data with outside health professionals and that percentage has increased since 2008.

However, the report also finds that “fewer hospitals appear to be ready to meet Stage 2 meaningful use criteria and may be subject to penalties.”

With the passage of the HITECH Act in 2009, there was a more concerted federal effort to increase health information exchange (HIE), yet despite this investment, “HIE efforts have persistently struggled with challenges to financial viability and sustainability,” the report states.

“HIE efforts operate in the vast majority of states and should, in theory, be broadly available to health professionals within those states. In addition, HIE efforts appear to  be supporting the exchange of a board range of types of clinical data, with a particular focus on summary of care records, discharge summaries, and test results. In addition, HIE efforts are working to support new models of care and payment, suggesting that HIE efforts are adapting to meet the needs of the changing health care delivery system,” the report states.

However, the survey findings also identified a number of substantial challenges, including “technical, financial, governance, human resources, privacy and security and patient  consent.”

“Moving forward, it will be important to understand whether there is some  prioritization of these barriers and then understand whether there is a set of policy remedies that are feasible,” the report states.

Looking ahead, the study authors forecast that “big data” could transform the healthcare system and argue that payment reform and HIT interoperability must follow the same innovation route to provide “a fluid and meaningful exchange of useful health information data.”

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

NIH Releases First Dataset from Adolescent Brain Development Study

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the release of the first dataset from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, which will enable scientists to conduct research on the many factors that influence brain, cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Boston Children's Accelerates Data-Driven Approach to Clinical Research

In an effort to bring a more data-driven approach to clinical research, Boston Children’s Hospital has joined the TriNetX global health research network.

Paper Records, Films Most Common Type of Healthcare Data Breach, Study Finds

Despite the high level of hospital adoption of electronic health records and federal incentives to do so, paper and films were the most frequent location of breached data in hospitals, according to a recent study.

AHA Appoints Senior Advisor for Cybersecurity and Risk

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has announced that John Riggi has joined the association as senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk.

Report: Healthcare Accounted for 45% of All Ransomware Attacks in 2017

Healthcare fell victim to more ransomware attacks than any other industry in 2017, according to a new report from global cybersecurity insurance company Beazley.

Study: Use of EHRs Does Not Reduce Administrative Costs

A recent study by Duke University and Harvard Business School researchers found that costs for processing a single bill ranged from $20 for a primary care visit to $215 for an inpatient surgical procedure, or up to 25 percent of revenue.