Before the end of 2014, eligible hospitals across the US will begin the transition to meaningful use Stage 2. To gauge the program’s progress, the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology has conducted multiple surveys, Modern Healthcare reports. According to the results, hospitals are progressing ahead of office-based physicians and patients.
In Stage 1, providers were focused on exchange, rather than interoperability, shared Vaishali Patel, a senior advisor to the ONC’s Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Analysis. The important factor to track, she told Modern Healthcare, is “the ability of electronic health records to digest the information and parse it out, and be able to use it for other purposes.”
The first survey found an increase of 21 percent of nongovernment hospitals that, from 2008 to 2013, electronically exchanged lab test results, radiology reports, clinical-care summaries, or medication lists with other hospitals or providers outside their organizations. Information exchanges among physicians were found to be at 39 percent in 2013, 14 percent of which took place with providers outside the physicians’ organizations, and 5 percent with outside hospitals.
In a separate survey, the National Center for Health Statistics found practice efficiency increased for the 80 percent of physicians who exchanged patient health information. Additionally, 89 percent of those surveyed felt the exchange improved quality of patient care.
“The data show there is growth, but there is substantial room for improvement,” Patel told the Health IT Policy Committee members.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act mandates interoperability of health IT systems, prompting the ONC to funnel $564 million of stimulus law money through 50 states, the District of Columbia, and various US territories, Modern Healthcare reported.