Interoperability is still the largest challenge for most health information exchanges.
“Despite the incorporation of new meaningful use policies, it is clear that interoperability issues are still stifling organizations’ ability to connect,” the Washington-based eHealth Initiative wrote in its 10th annual HIE survey. “The survey results reveal that interoperability remains a great hurdle with little relief in sight.”
The survey of 199 health information exchanges around the country also revealed that HIEs do have large opportunities to support health reform, and many already are, but to do that they have to support patient portals and self-service — an area HIEs and hospitals too are lagging in.
The eHealth Initiative called the report the “challenge to connect.” Of the 199 HIEs, 68 have had to connect to more than 10 different systems. Seventy five of the 199 HIEs listed hard-to-build interfaces as a key challenge, and 73 listed difficulty encouraging area organizations to share information.
More than half of the HIEs said they would like to see standardized integrated products and pricing from vendors. Many also indicted that they’d like to see more “plug-and-play” platform options, and others said they would like to see a greater use of consensus-based data standards.
Despite the obstacles, many HIEs are already connected to EHRs. More than 100 told the eHealth survey that they offer connectivity to EHRs, with continuity of care summaries, a master patient index and results delivery, 65 HIEs are supporting ACOs, and 90 are offering Direct Messaging.
HIEs are still lagging in patient portals, a communications option that the federal government is hoping will spur more engaged patients and shared decision making. Only 37 HIEs let patients view their records online and only 31 HIEs offer patients access to their information; 24 HIEs support patient self-scheduling and 17 let patients report data directly to the HIE.
“As health data exchange initiatives evolve in 2013 and beyond, it will be critical for community stakeholders, healthcare organizations, and policymakers to address emerging challenges — particularly in light of the growing complexity of the landscape and the expected changes that will occur as a result of federal funding and support winding down,” the organization wrote. “This year’s results illustrate that many challenges still need to be addressed.”