Adopting Advanced Health IT in Health Systems

Samara Rosenfeld
JANUARY 11, 2019
big data, EHR, health IT
The thumbnail and image above have been cropped and resized. USDA photo courtesy of Bob Nichols. 

Health systems that standardize their electronic health records (EHRs) or own and manage hospitals and medical groups have higher rates of advanced health information technology (IT) adoption and use, according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care.
 
The research team found that the adoption of advanced health IT capabilities is low and variable, with only 8.4 percent of systems reporting widespread adoption of five capabilities — patients’ access to their EHRs, patients’ ability to electronically comment on their medical records, physicians’ and patients’ ability to communicate with each other securely through email, physicians’ ability to know whether patients have filled their prescriptions and advanced analytic systems.
 
Data were collected from the 2017-2018 National Survey of Healthcare Organizations and Systems. Respondents were system presidents, CEOs and CMOs.  

>> READ: Global Hospital EMR Systems Market: Key Growth Drivers

Respondents were asked about the use of biomedical innovations, patient engagement strategies, evidence-based care management and performance-based incentives.

Of the 732 randomly sampled health systems, 389 (53.1 percent) reported consistent EHR use.
 
To determine the adoption of advanced health IT, respondents were asked how many hospitals or medical groups in their systems had the five capabilities. Points were assigned based on whether the person answered “none,” “some,” “most” or “all.”
 
While 8.4 percent of systems reported having all five capabilities, it was found that 80.5 percent of the systems had between one and four capabilities.
 
More than 75 percent of the systems reported the ability of patients to access their medical records. Less than 32 percent reported the ability of physicians to know when patients fill their prescriptions and of patients to comment on their medical records.
 
Close to half of the systems sampled owned and managed their hospitals and medical groups and 67.3 percent reported conducting capital budgeting at the system level. And 69 percent of the systems used a single EHR while 58.6 percent standardized EHR data elements.

EHR standardization was the strongest predictor of advanced health IT.
 
The results indicated that organizations with more distributed forms of resource allocation and high levels of standardization might have similar levels of advanced technology adoption.
 
Payers can target technical assistance toward health systems with lower levels of EHR standardization to assist health systems with EHR adoption.
 
“Health system leaders looking to improve the diffusion of new technologies should consider ways to better standardize their implementation and use of EHRs to drive widespread adoption of and benefit from new features,” the authors wrote.
 
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