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Hospitals seldom exchange EHR
As of October 2015, only 30% of U.S. hospitals could find, send, receive, and integrate electronic patient information from outside providers, according to a study in the October 2017 Health Affairs.

The study reports hospitals seldom had use for patients’ records from outside providers – only 18.7% of hospitals said they “often” used such information. “Our results reveal that hospitals’ progress toward interoperability is slow, and that progress is focused on moving information between hospitals, not on ensuring usability of information in clinical decisions,” the researchers concluded.

“What this means is there is potentially a significant amount of waste and inefficiency in hospitals,” lead study author Jay Holmgren of Harvard Business School commented to Reuters. Without access to patient records, doctors might re-order tests that have already been done somewhere else, or make treatment decisions without a full picture of underlying medical conditions.

“And, without a system for getting electronic patient data to clinicians, the responsibility falls on patients and their families, who often resort to bringing printouts of records from one hospital to another. It just adds to the burden of being sick,” he added.

As Reuters explains it, the study found that hospitals across the country have focused primarily on moving electronic health records from one institution to another, rather than on integrating relevant subsets of information – for example, clinical notes, lab tests and other patient information – in ways that would allow clinicians to easily learn what they need to know without having to read through a patient’s entire record.

Hospitals report that the most common barrier to using outside information is that their clinicians cannot see it embedded into their own health system’s electronic health record.