Physician awareness of health information exchange lacking

Physicians are interested in electronic sharing of health information, but their awareness of and adoption of health information exchange varies significantly based on practice size, according to a new report released by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

The report, prepared by NORC at the University of Chicago for ONC, conducted focus groups with 68 physicians in five states. The researchers found that 55 percent of physicians in smaller practices had some expertise with exchanging clinical data electronically, such as e-prescribing, compared to 76 percent of large practice physicians.

Only a few of the physicians, those in larger group practices affiliated with hospitals, were aware of the increased HIE requirements of Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use program.

However, practice size was irrelevant in some instances. There was limited awareness among all physicians of state efforts to enable HIE, including the existence and functions of the regional extension centers in their states. Moreover, none of the physicians surveyed were aware of the Direct Project, the standardized message protocol that allows the secure exchange of clinical data.

Some of the challenges found to be interfering with HIE include cost of interfaces, a perceived lack of need, accuracy and completeness of exchanged data, and need for willing and able exchange partners.

"Physician participation in and satisfaction with HIE depends on HIE solutions that are adaptable, beneficial to their workflows, and useful in the information they provide," the report's authors wrote. "As EHR and HIE adoption increases, it is important to ensure physicians working in smaller practices do not lag behind."

To learn more:
- read the report