As providers wrap their arms around data exchange, patient engagement tools are the next hurdle

Doctor on computer
Provider interoperability is getting better, but consumer-directed mobile tools have yet to gain steam. (Getty/Vladdeep)

Healthcare providers are getting better at collecting, exchanging and managing data, but the adoption of patient engagement tools is still lagging, according to a new survey by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME).

Thanks to Meaningful Use requirements, 94% of the 618 providers surveyed in CHIME’s annual Healthcare's Most Wired: National Trends report (PDF) can consume data in some form from a continuity of care document. Fewer providers can take in discrete or unstructured data: 85% of respondents said they could consume discrete data from hospital systems, while just 60% said they could absorb data from home health agencies or skilled nursing facilities.

Additionally, the vast majority of respondents adopted clinical desktop applications like mobile voice recognition for notes and remote published apps.

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But taking data to the next level is still a struggle, according to respondents. Most providers still don’t integrate data from IV pumps or ventilators into the EHR, and 35% of respondents said they don’t have a surveillance system integrated with their EHR.

Reaching patients with consumer technology also remains elusive. Although 90% of respondents reported having a patient portal accessible on a mobile device, just 59% offered a personal health record, 35% used virtual visits, and 20% provided ER wait times. Only 27% of respondents provide cost calculations for common procedures.

Although telehealth adoption for patients outside of the hospital came in low at 38%, the report said the figure is actually reasonable given how new the technology still is.

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“While this may seem low compared to adoption of other capabilities, it is actually high given that virtual care is still developing and few patients have participated in it,” the report said. “The progress of virtual care may indicate that the industry is approaching around-the-clock connectivity as telehealth enables clinicians to provide more direct, more accessible care.”

More broadly, 89% of organizations said they offer some form of telehealth whether that's in-office consultations with other clinicians, stroke care within the hospital or psychiatric examinations. Few respondents offer telehealth services in the patient's home. 

Comprehensive security still lags

Healthcare has long struggled with implementing appropriate security measures. That continues to be a concern, with nearly one-third of organizations reporting they don’t have a comprehensive security program that includes regular security meetings with the board, a dedicated chief information security officer and a dedicated cybersecurity committee.  

“Without a dedicated committee, it may be difficult for organizations to standardize security procedures and protocols,” the report said. “Governance and oversight committees can be easy, low-cost, process-oriented opportunities for healthcare organizations to focus resources on bolstering their security measures.”

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