ONC: Hospital EHR adoption, interoperability on the rise

Hospitals continue to make progress in the transition to electronic health records, although adoption still varies widely, according to a new data brief released by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

The brief, based on the American Hospital Association's annual health IT survey, found that more roughly nine out of 10 hospitals have certified EHR technology--up 29 percent since 2011--and 59 percent have an EHR with advanced functionalities--an increase more than eight-fold in the last four years. Roughly six in 10 hospitals electronically shared data with outside providers, a 51 percent increase since 2008.  

However, adoption varied significantly by state, ranging from 26 percent to 83 percent.

In a related blog post, Matthew Swain, a program analyst with ONC's Office of Economic Analysis, Evaluation and Modeling and Erica Galvez, ONC's interoperability and exchange portfolio manager, noted that ONC anticipates that exchange of care summaries will increase as hospitals move to the 2014 edition of certification criteria, which requires more interoperability.

They also acknowledged that there is room for improvement. Less than half of hospitals routinely notified a patient's primary care provider inside the hospital system electronically when the patient entered the emergency room, and only 10 percent provided patients with the ability to transmit information from their medical record to a third party.

"ONC continues to encourage the exchange of health information and interoperability through the advancement of electronic notification services that can help create continuity of care and reduce hospital readmissions," they said. "We continue to focus on strengthening common trust frameworks that support exchange, and to develop and define technical standards that advance interoperability."

The results are consistent with other research that has found a wide disparities in EHR adoption. A recent report from HIMSS noted that a little more than one-third (37 percent) of U.S. hospitals were in the most advanced three stages of EHR use, but that 6 percent were still using paper records.

To learn more:
- read the data brief (.pdf)
- here's the blog post