289 Most Wired Hospitals Struggle to Share Data Across Borders

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The annual list of the Most Wired U.S. hospitals from Hospitals & Health Networks, numbering 289 this year, offers both reason to cheer and evidence of roadblocks in the nation’s effort to tech-up its health-care system.

Significant progress is being made in making patient data available to caregivers within institutional walls and among affiliated practices to manage patient and population health. Hospitals are also making progress in their ability to aggregate and measure the cost of care across settings.

But when it comes to sharing data across institutional borders, many of the hospitals that made the Most Wired list—representing less than 6% of the nation’s hospital inventory—report that they don’t have the ability to share patient data, medication histories, or diagnostic images.

With the management of population health likely to figure more prominently in future health-care reimbursement strategy, the ability to freely share data will be a critical competency. So will the ability to manage the distribution of payments for a bundle of care to physicians, hospitals and non-acute facilities, another question asked of the 659 respondents representing 1,713 hospitals.

The director of policy at the American Hospital Association, Chantal Worzala, cited the lack of resources for a large number of institutions as well as vendor readiness to provide interoperable systems.

Highlights from the report include the following data points on the 289 Most Wired hospitals:

• 100% have systems capable of producing real-time alerts on drug-to-drug interactions, compared to 58% in 2007,
• 71% have an electronic disease registry to identify and manage gaps in care across a population,
• 69% of medication orders made at hospitals on the list were done electronically compared to just 27% in 2004,
• 66% share patient discharge data with affiliated hospitals,
• 51% said they can make clinical documentation available electronically,
• 48% reported that they are capable of electronically transmitting diagnostic images to unaffiliated hospitals,
• 41% have a patient portal or web-based solution for patient-generated data,
• 40% can electronically share medication lists and histories with unaffiliated hospitals.
• 37% can share patient discharge data with unaffiliated hospitals.
• 28% use data analytics to manage the distribution of payment for a bundle to the physicians, hospitals and non-acute facilities that delivered the care.

“The concept of health information exchange is absolutely correct. We need to do it and do it in a robust, refined way,” Russell P. Branzell, president and CEO of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), said in a press release from Health Forum, which collaborated on the survey. “The answer here is standards, standards, standards. We need to standardize the entire process, which we’ve done in almost every other business sector.”

The survey was sponsored by McKesson, AT &T, and CHIME.