by John R. Fischer
, Staff Reporter | August 20, 2019
Nearly a third of U.S. technology executives in hospitals and healthcare systems rate their data-sharing efforts as insufficient — even within their own organizations. That’s the consensus of a new research survey sponsored by the Center for Connected Medicine (CCM), which found that fewer than four in 10 report successful data sharing with other health systems.
But while a challenge, many are working to integrate interoperability by switching to single, integrated EHR systems.
"In my opinion, having a single view of the patient is really critical to advancing digital health initiatives and delivering better health outcomes," Janet King, senior director of market insights at HIMSS Media, which conducted the research for the CCM in June, told HCB News. "Given that so much of the data critical to the patient's health history exists within the EHR — it is the central nervous system for data in many ways — successfully integrating or consolidating platforms eliminates many of the obstacles around data integration."
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The survey was issued to 100 information technology and business executives at U.S. hospitals, asking them to indicate how prepared their organizations are for advancing interoperability, and how the challenges that come with it affect organizational priorities. Only 27 percent said efforts to improve interoperability helped reduce cost of care, while 60 percent said they were highly effective at meeting regulatory and compliance requirements of interoperability.
Nearly 60 percent specified that shifting to one EHR is necessary to overcome interoperability challenges. This was higher than other actions named, including the adoption of widely promoted healthcare exchange standards, like Fast Healthcare interoperability Resources, which was mentioned by 37 percent of respondents.
Lack of interoperability within health systems prevents them from reaching important goals, including setting up patient-facing apps, drawing insights from unstructured data, and reducing cost of care. The most necessary resources include commitment by senior leadership; financial incentives and penalties that encourage organizations to share data with one another and with individual patients; and advances in tools and technologies.
Though the findings show advances being made toward creating interoperable environments, they also indicate more success in sharing information within one's own health system and less success in sharing it with payers, patients or other health systems and partners, according to survey respondents.
"Health systems can support regulations or other government initiatives to facilitate data sharing and work closely with vendors for solutions that meet their needs," Alex Nixon, senior research analyst at the Center for Connected Medicine, told HCB News. "But an essential element for effective data sharing is for health system leaders to make interoperability a strategic priority."
CCM provides connections and resources that support executives in facilitating healthcare improvement and innovation through technology. It is jointly operated by GE Healthcare, Nokia and UPMC.