Meaningful use of EHRs undoubtedly will require interoperability of electronic health information between care settings, as well as coordination of care. With physician practices largely "still on the fence" about investing in EHR technology, according to a new Computer Sciences Corp. report, the time seems right for hospitals and health systems to take the lead in promoting "integrated EHRs" that go beyond their own facilities to serve physician offices in their communities.
"For health organizations, the ability to help with electronic health records is becoming a competitive edge," Dr. Todd Rothenhaus, senior VP and CIO at Caritas Christi Health Care in Boston, says in the CSC report. "The ones that look away from this miss an opportunity to align with a physician who might go to another hospital system because they are supporting an EHR."
The Falls Church, Va.-based consulting firm recommends a three-stage process for setting up a community-wide, integrated EHR: Decide whether to extend an enterprise EHR to practices or whether to help them implement a separate ambulatory system; develop a strategy for connecting hospital and practice systems; and come up with a strategy for providing financial and technical expertise to practices. Other, "lesser," options include provider portals, HIEs that enable partial EHR functionality, such as e-prescribing, and limited data exchange.
"The bottom line on integrated EHRs within U.S. hospital communities today is that adoption has become a widely recognized objective [from within and outside the industry] that hospitals are increasingly targeting, piloting and initiating, but also one that requires a lot more work to realize," CSC says.
- download the CSC report (.pdf)