Costly technology gaps limit EHRs

The technology gaps inherent in electronic health records still stymie hospitals' ability to use them, even as hospitals' adoption of them continues to rise.

That's the conclusion of a new study of hospital CIOs by the Optum Institute for Sustainable Health. Almost nine out of ten hospitals (87 percent) surveyed have implemented an EHR system, up from just a little more than 50 percent just a year ago. The hospitals also reported success with meeting the incentive programs' Meaningful Use requirements. Seventy percent of them reported that they have successfully attested to Stage 1 of Meaningful Use; 78 percent of the remainder believes they'll be able to do so in 2012. Three-fourths of the respondents anticipate being able to meet the anticipated Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements by 2014.

However, the CIOs did not paint a completely rosy picture, expressing concern that "technology gaps" such as lack of interoperability and data accuracy problems limit the hospitals' ability to support effective, efficient and coordinated patient care. These barriers raised the cost of using EHRs--and that's on top of the hefty investments hospitals made to adopt the systems. As a result, many hospitals (60 percent) plan to move to cloud-based systems to keep costs down and to improve interoperability of their systems.

The results of the study come as no surprise; providers have been struggling with EHR adoption even as they embrace it. It does appear that those with the means to address these problems are beginning to listen: the National Institute of Standards and Technology will begin researching actual EHR products on the market to assess their usability and suggest ways to improve them.

To learn more:
- read the study (.pdf)
- check out this Healthcare IT News article