Putting numbers to the challenges of HIE, Meaningful Use

With the release of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' proposed Meaningful Use Stage 2 rules as a backdrop, a flurry of health IT surveys shed light on provider's preparedness for the massive government initiative.

The Washington, D.C.-based National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC) has released the results of its survey on barriers to health information exchange (HIE), consumer engagement and other NeHC programs that relate to Meaningful Use in general and Stage 2 in particular.

As FierceHealthIT reported today, information exchange will be a big challenge in Stage 2. So many organizations have had trouble with the Stage 1 requirement that they test their ability to trade key clinical data with other providers that CMS dropped that criterion. But in Stage 2, providers will have to go beyond testing and actually exchange the information.

When asked to list the three most important benefits of HIE, top answers included better care coordination (73 percent), ensuring that patients and providers have the right information available when needed to support patient care (65 percent). Improving efficiency came in third at 39 percent and improving quality lagged fourth at 37 percent, according to NeHC.

In addition, an overwhelming number of respondents said consumer engagement will be "very important" (95 percent) to transform healthcare and achieve better outcomes, according to NeHC.

The survey sought information on barriers, as well.

Respondents were asked to name three of their biggest challenges to achieving widespread health information exchange. Funding and sustainability came out on top (61 percent), followed by interoperability standards (53 percent). Provider adoption and disparate electronic medical records systems tied for third place with 46 percent.

Another study by IVANS, Inc., a national HIE, found that while 42 percent of healthcare providers surveyed currently use either electronic health records or electronic medical records systems, 39 percent have no plans yet to implement Stage 1 of Meaningful Use.

The study "demonstrates it is not enough to simply have an EHR or EMR system in place, but providers must be able to share and use the data in a meaningful manner, or they risk a possible reduction in their Medicare fees or could lose out on financial incentives," the company said in an announcement.

Achieving Meaningful Use continues to be the top IT priority for health IT executives, according to the results of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's most recent leadership survey, announced last week at the organization's annual conference in Las Vegas. Thirty-eight percent of executives called Meaningful Use their most important IT undertaking, down from 49 percent in 2011, but still well ahead of the 15 percent of execs who said that focusing on clinical systems was their top priority.

And one-fourth of respondents indicated that having a fully operational electronic health record in place was their top clinical IT focus.

Finally, a new study from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions found that only one-fourth of physicians are on track to meet Stage 1 of Meaningful Use.

The most disconcerting finding in that study, said Harry Greenspun, M.D., the consulting firm's senior advisor for healthcare transformation and technology, was the "disconnect" of doctors in larger practices versus the inability to accomplish more for physicians in smaller practices.

"What's going on now between Meaningful Use and ICD-10 and healthcare reform requires so much physician engagement, and these larger groups are relatively disengaged from some of these critical things that are making a difference in making it happen," he told FierceHealthIT.

To learn more:
- See the full NeHC survey results (.pdf)
- read about the HIMSS annual leadership survey
- see the results of the Deloitte survey
- check out the FierceHealthIT interview with Deloitte's Harry Greenspun
- see the IVANS announcement

Suggested Articles

An assessment looking at 12 health systems that allow patients to download their health records to their smartphones via APIs finds modest uptake.

The National Institutes of Health-led All of Us precision medicine project has enrolled 230,000 participants with another 40,000 people registered.

Hospitals must pursue a deliberate strategy for managing their public image—and a powerful tool for doing so is inpatient clinical data registries.