ONCHIT is demanding them. Patients are beginning to understand them. But poor ol’ beleaguered HIEs still aren’t getting the attention they deserve, it seems.
A new survey by patient care organization ECRI Institute, done with strategic partner s2a, has concluded that while they understand the importance of HIEs, only 54 percent of providers have formally assessed their HIE and interoperability needs. (See the study here.)
Given the speed at which Meaningful Use data exchange requirements are barreling down on providers, that seems like a pretty low number to me. After all, the final rule for MU Stage 2 requires providers to at least be able to electronically transmit a Summary care record using a certified EMR system or HIE for 10 percent or more of care transitions and referrals.
It’s also a pretty low number given that 93 percent of hospitals surveyed agreed that interoperability of health systems was one of their top strategic priorities. Provider CIOs are well aware that getting HIE connectivity in play is a long and difficult process, and while they can’t do everything at once, one would assume that most providers would have a team in place to at least begin the assessments by this point.
The ECRI analysts conclude that two major factors are holding providers back:
* Working with non-employed physicians: For the moment, hospitals are focused largely on interoperability with their employed physicians, who typically use the same EMR as the facility does. Working with non-employed physicians is a major challenge for many reasons, including that they typically aren’t using the same EMR as the hospital. There’s also legal issues that come into play: for example, what happens is non-employeds end up sharing data intended for Hospital B with Hospital A?
* Medical device connectivity: Meaningful Use is putting great pressure on hospitals to exchange information between medical devices and EMRs. However, interoperability even between a blood pressure cuff and and EMR is no picnic. ECRI found that 40 percent of respondents hadn’t established policies and procedures for EMR interoperability with medical devices.
Of course, the sheer work and expense involved in becoming an HIE participant is immense, as well. Given those expenses, time demands, and the issues in connecting with physicians, I have to believe that a fair number of hospitals won’t be ready when Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements hit.