Survey: Most hospitals with EHRs and HIEs plan cloud initiatives

Hospitals and healthcare systems are increasingly eyeing the use of cloud-based systems, according to a new survey by Harris Interactive for the Optum Institute. Nearly 60 percent of responding CIOs from organizations that have both an electronic health record (EHR) and a health information exchange (HIE) said they plan to invest in "cloud-based open systems."

Thirty-six percent of these respondents said they planned to use cloud computing for both EHRs and HIEs; 12 percent said they'd use it only to exchange health information; and 11 percent plan to use it only for EHRs only.

The respondents' top reasons for going to the cloud included access to additional applications (57 percent) and additional functionality (56 percent). Among the CIOs who favor the cloud, 86 percent said they believed their current systems would be interoperable with new cloud-based technologies.

This burgeoning trend is in line with a Gartner prediction that by 2014, cloud computing will take center stage in the "digital lives" of computer users.

Another major theme of the Optum Institute report is that CIOs are concerned about the lack of systems interoperability, which will be required for accountable care organizations as well as Meaningful Use Stage 2.

Seventy-one percent of respondents said their organizations participate in an HIE, and nearly two-thirds of those own the exchanges. But these HIEs appear to be fairly limited so far, and it's not clear from the survey how many of them can exchange data with providers outside the enterprise.

Of the respondents who had HIEs, the majority could use the exchanges to access lab results, patient history and demographics, imaging results, meds and allergies and clinical notes. But less than half the respondents said their clinicians could receive prescriptions, discharge summaries, care plans or problem lists via the HIE.

To learn more:
- read the Optum Institute report