More Hospitals Adopting EHRs, Sending Health Data Electronically

May 6, 2014 in News

Hospitals’ adoption of electronic health records and their ability to electronically send patient data to outside providers has significantly increased over the last several years, ┬ábut there still are areas in need of improvement, according to the American Hospital Association’s 2013 Health IT survey, Health Data Management reports (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 5/6).

Survey Details

The health IT survey is part of a broader annual survey conducted by AHA and was funded by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

Surveys were sent between November 2013 and February 2014 to all non-federal acute care hospital CEOs. The executives were asked to have the person most familiar with the hospital’s health IT efforts answer the IT-related survey questions (ONC Data Brief, May 2014).

EHR Findings

The survey found that hospital adoption of EHR systems has increased more than five-fold over the last five years (Health Data Management, 5/6). Specifically, 93% of hospitals in 2013 reported being “in possession” of an EHR system that received meaningful use certification.

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Bresnick, EHR Intelligence, 5/6).

In addition, the poll found that nearly 60% of hospitals in 2013 reported having at least a basic EHR system, including:

  • 26% that had a comprehensive EHR system, an eight-fold increase from 2009 (Health Data Management, 5/6); and
  • 34% that had a basic EHR system with clinician notes (ONC Data Brief, May 2014).

Meanwhile, 10.9% of hospitals reported using basic EHRs without note capabilities (EHR Intelligence, 5/6).

HIE Findings

The AHA survey also polled hospitals on health information exchange adoption. It found that 62% of hospitals in 2013 could electronically exchange health data with outside providers, representing a 51% increase since 2008, Healthcare IT News reports (Manos, Healthcare IT News, 5/6).

The survey also found that:

  • 57% of hospitals exchanged health data electronically with ambulatory providers outside of their systems, representing a 58% increase since 2008; and
  • 40% of hospitals exchanged health data electronically with other hospitals outside of their systems, representing a 167% increase since 2008.

However, the survey indicated that data exchange with outside providers varied depending on the type of data. Specifically:

  • 57% of hospitals electronically exchanged laboratory results;
  • 55% electronically exchanged radiology reports;
  • 42% electronically exchanged clinical care summaries; and
  • 37% electronically exchanged patients’ medical histories.

Further, the survey found that just 40% of hospitals could send and receive secure electronic messages with patients’ health data through external systems, and slightly more than 50% could electronically request and receive patient health data from providers outside of their organizations.

In addition, the survey found that:

  • Less than half of the respondents regularly electronically notified patients’ primary care physicians within their system when the patients enter an emergency department;
  • About 25% notified PCPs outside of their systems when the patients enter an emergency department; and
  • Just 10% of hospitals enabled patients to send their health information to a third party.


In a “Health IT Buzz” post, ONC officials wrote “that the exchange of care summaries among hospitals will increase as hospitals implement EHRs certified to meet ONC’s 2014 health IT certification regulation, which require secure messaging functionality and standardized clinical care summary structure and content.”

The post was authored by Matthew Swain, ONC Office of Economic Analysis, Evaluation and Modeling program analyst, and Erica Galvez, ONC Interoperability and Exchange Portfolio manager (Health Data Management, 5/6).

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