New survey shows nearly all U.S. hospitals using certified health IT to manage patient care

According to data from a new survey released today at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) 2016 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., nearly all of the nation’s hospitals have adopted certified electronic health records (EHRs).

This represents a nine-fold increase since 2008, according to survey data from the American Hospital Association (AHA) Information Technology Supplement. The data also show there have been increases in sharing health data among hospitals, with over 85 percent of hospitals sending key clinical information electronically.

For the next three days, ONC will convene key stakeholders across the public and private sector to discuss the collective work to advance the seamless and secure flow of health information for a number of national priorities, including advancing delivery system reform and improving health and facilitates science and research, such as through the Precision Medicine Initiative.

This year’s sessions align with the three core commitments that market leaders have made around improving consumer access to their health information, combating information blocking, and implementing federally recognized, national standards so that different health IT systems can speak the same language. Today’s agenda will include panel discussions with health IT influencers from both the public and private sectors, featuring conversations on high profile topics critical to achieving “Better Health through IT,” this year’s theme.

The day will conclude with a fireside chat between National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Karen DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., and former U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius.  Secretary Sebelius oversaw the implementation of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act in 2009, which led to a rapid increase in the adoption and use of health IT.

“As we kick off the 2016 ONC Annual Meeting today, these data showing nearly universal adoption of certified electronic health records by U.S. hospitals are an indication of how far we have come for clinicians and individuals since the HITECH Act was passed,” said DeSalvo. “I look forward to these next three days with leaders from across the country to discuss our collective work to ensure health information can flow where and when it is needed for national priorities like delivery system reform, the Precision Medicine Initiative, the Cancer Moonshot, and the opioid crisis.”

Over 1,200 people are expected to attend the 2016 ONC Annual Meeting, with several hundred joining online via streaming webcast.

The ONC data briefs released today show the adoption rate of certified EHRs has increased from almost 72 percent in 2011 (when this information began to be collected) to 96 percent in 2015. While the overall rate for the use of certified health IT has remained stable, the new data show that adoption rates for small, rural, and critical access hospitals increased. 

The AHA data also show that:

  • The percentage of hospitals sending, receiving and finding key clinical information grew between 2014 and 2015.
  • In 2015, about half of hospitals had health information electronically available from providers outside their systems; this grew by five percent from 2014.
  • About half of hospitals report they often or sometimes use patient information they receive electronically from providers outside their systems.

The two data briefs, Adoption of Electronic Health Record Systems among U.S. Non-Federal Acute Care Hospitals: 2008 – 2015 and Interoperability among U.S. Non-Federal Acute Care Hospitals in 2015 can be viewed at HealthIT.gov.

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