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Survey Shows Interoperability Essential in Value-Based Care

In an annual survey, eHealth Initiative checks in on the healthcare industry’s satisfaction with current efforts toward true interoperability.

By Kate Monica

- The majority - 95 percent - of healthcare industry insiders agree that strong interoperability capabilities are a necessary requirement for a smooth transition to value-based care, according to a recent survey.

2017 healthcare interoperability discussed in recent survey.

eHealth Initiative published the results of its December 2016 survey on the “current state of progress toward achieving true interoperability” with the aim of highlighting the value of up-to-date technology and innovation in the healthcare industry.

Through research directed at improving the “quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare,” eHealth points the industry toward efficient data exchange and health IT.

Using the eHealth 2020 Roadmap as a guiding point of reference, the survey assesses the industry’s current status on interoperability, data access and privacy, patient and provider technology adoption, and data analytics.

The eHealth 2020 Roadmap was created as a response to healthcare industry stakeholder dissatisfaction with the sluggish pace of improvements in quality of care and cost reductions since the passage of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act and the Affordable Care Act (ACA.) The eHealth 2020 Roadmap functions as a guidebook to assuage these concerns and push the industry toward true interoperability.

In conducting the survey, eHealth interviewed 125 anonymous respondents—75 percent of whom were in healthcare delivery in varying capacities ranging from hospitals to ACO’s.

According to the survey, 75 percent of respondents believe technology has increased healthcare quality, while 32 percent believe that technology has helped decrease healthcare costs since 2008.

In terms of perspectives on interoperability and value-based care, 95 percent of respondents believe that strong interoperability capabilities are a key IT requirement for a successful transition to value-based care, while 85 percent stated that current interoperability solutions are not meeting industry needs.

The survey revealed that respondents find interoperability has the greatest impacts in expediting access to externally sourced patient data, such as lab reports and clinically relevant documents. Those surveyed said enabling patients to provide data through devices such as Fitbits had the least amount of impact.

The respondents agreed that the connectivity area most important to their organizations was the capacity to exchange data between providers. Respondents valued transferring EHR across different providers to support a comprehensive picture of a patient’s health over interoperability within a practice.

eHealth also assessed the healthcare industry’s view on regulations. eHealth found that 60 percent of respondents do not believe current federal policies, committees, and regulations are sufficient to help the nation attain interoperability by 2020 in accordance with the eHealth roadmap.

Sixty percent also reported providers do not understand which clinical information can be legally shared with other providers and payers under acts such as HIPAA.

Many respondents reported additional federal incentives are necessary to motivate a significant delivery system transformation.

Ultimately, the eHealth Initiative survey established the following overall trends in opinion among healthcare industry insiders:

  • Importance of interoperability to value based care.
  • Interoperability costs have an impact on organizations.
  • Value of interoperability is dependent upon the type of [information] exchanged.
  • Mixed reaction to federal intervention with interoperability, deems further research.

With interoperability, eHealth concluded most participants agreed that it is a necessary component of value-based care, and that interoperability solutions yield benefits for value-based care.

In terms of interoperability costs, the majority of respondents do not believe interoperability decreases healthcare costs in their organizations. Conversely, many anticipate their expenses for IT to increase in the coming years. Forty-one percent of respondents predict paying over $100,000, while 22 percent see themselves paying over $500,000 for interoperability over the next three years.

For the value of interoperability, respondents reported that labs, tests, and results are seen as the most useful data exchanged between providers. Data exchange for regulatory reporting and research purposes is not as valuable to connectivity for payer, provider and HIE organizations.

Finally, the survey found that more research is needed in when it comes to federal intervention. The majority of respondents believe federal policies and regulations are unsatisfactory and will not help the nation reach true interoperability by 2020. Federal incentives are seen as imperative to reaching the industry’s goals for health data exchange.

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