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 Meaningful Use 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

AMIA to FCC: Access to Broadband is a Social Determinant of Health

The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) is calling on the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) to b support broadband-enabled health care delivery by bolstering its efforts to better target those with chronic conditions, and ensure that those populations have access to affordable broadband and broadband-enabled health technologies.

Reports: VA Secretary Won’t Ask for IT Funding with Uncertainty Surrounding VistA

While many federal agencies saw cuts across the board in President Trump’s 2018 budget request this week, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) got a spending boost, albeit not related to information technology.

Mount Sinai Creates Imaging Research Warehouse

The Mount Sinai Health System in New York has created a database that integrates clinical imaging with electronic health records to allow researchers to identify new patterns in the data.

CBO Analysis Estimates House-Passed AHCA Would Leave 23 Million More Uninsured by 2026

If enacted, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) would reduce the federal deficit over the 2017-2026 period by $119 billion and increase the number of people who are uninsured by 23 million in 2026, relative to current law, according to a cost estimate by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT).

KLAS Global EHR Report: InterSystems, Epic Outdueling Competitors

Last year saw a big increase in electronic health record (EHR) purchasing decisions across the globe, with lower-cost InterSystems and higher-cost Epic winning more new hospital contracts than their competitors,.

Rush Health Deploys Phase One of HIE

Chicago-based Rush Health said it has successfully deployed phase one of Rush Health Connect, a health information exchange (HIE) solution that will aim to enable providers to share patient information more securely an efficiently.