Despite Adoption Rate Increase, EHR Interoperability Lags

shutterstock_102017668

Despite high EHR adoption rates among hospitals and physicians, the annual report released by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology shows that there are still issues in health care information exchange among providers.

The report states that as of June 2014, more than 4,500 hospitals received EHR incentive payments, representing 92% of the total eligible. Over 403,000 the nation’s eligible professionals, about 75%, received EHR incentive payments. Office based physicians cited costs of purchasing and maintaining the system as the major barrier to EHR adoption, among loos of productivity, adequacy of training, and finding an EHR to meet the practice’s needs.

Those using EHR have found that electronic health information has not yet been sufficiently standardized to allow seamless interoperability; consequently, practice patterns have not changed to consistently facilitate information exchanges across organizational, vendor, and geographic boundaries.

EHR adoption rates are especially low in fields that are not eligible for incentive payments. This includes post-acute care, long-term care, and behavioral care.

The report notes that the continuation of the REC program for another year past its intended August 2014 expiration date will bring 20,000 more of its 150,000 participating providers to meaningful use status. The Regional Extension Center program targets providers with historically lower EHR adoption rates, specifically small practices, community health centers and rural and public health centers. It has already helped 100,000 providers achieve meaningful use status.

Read the full report here