Survey: HIEs Still Face Tech, Cost Barriers to Interoperability

October 9, 2014 in News

Health information exchanges still struggle with cost and technical barriers to interoperability, according to a new survey by the eHealth Initiative, Health Data Management reports.

Details of Survey

The annual survey tracks the progress of various health data exchange initiatives across the U.S. It yielded complete responses from 125 of 267 HIEs, including:

  • 74 community-based health information organizations;
  • 26 health care delivery groups; and
  • 25 statewide efforts.

Ten other organizations provided partial responses.

Findings on Obstacles to Interoperability

The survey found that HIEs have encountered interface development obstacles as they try to make systems interoperable.

According to the survey, 112 of the respondents have constructed multiple interfaces with different electronic health record systems. Of those organizations, 18 have constructed more than 25 interfaces.

Respondents identified several barriers to interoperability. Specifically:

  • 74 cited high costs of creating interfaces;
  • 64 said getting timely responses from EHR vendor interface developers was difficult; and
  • 48 cited difficult technical procedures for building interfaces (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 10/9).

Meaningful Use Findings

Meanwhile, the survey found that more HIEs are performing core functions required under Stage 2 of the meaningful use program (Gold, “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 10/9). Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

For example:

  • 101 respondents said they have incorporated Direct secure messaging into their information exchange models;
  • 81 respondents said that their users access data through secure messaging;
  • 78 respondents said they offer a Direct address directory (Raths, Healthcare Informatics, 10/8); and
  • 85 respondents said they have implemented notification systems to improve care transitions (Health Data Management, 10/9).

Findings on Support for New Payment Systems

In addition, the survey found that some respondents are providing assistance to accountable care organizations or other new payment systems (“Morning eHealth,” Politico, 10/9). Specifically:

  • 51% of respondents are supporting ACOs;
  • 41% are supporting patient-centered medical homes;
  • 17% are supporting a State Innovation Model grant; and
  • 9% are supporting a bundled payment initiative (eHI release, 10/9).
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