More than half of the technology leaders at the nation’s leading health systems said they are investing more money in interoperability initiatives in 2023 than they did last year, according to a recent report from a healthcare interoperability software vendor Hello Gorilla.
Health Gorilla surveyed 40 chief information officers and chief medical information officers at the top 50 US health systems by net patient revenue. A full 55% of them said they would increase their organization’s investment in interoperability initiatives by 5-20% in 2023 compared to 2022, and 2% of executives said they would increase this spending by 20% or more. No one said their spending on interoperability initiatives year over year would decrease, but 43% said it would stay roughly the same.
Participating in the exchange of health information is a key way in which health systems strengthen their interoperability strategy. The main reason health systems are joining health information exchanges is to help their providers get data faster and improve the quality of care, the report said.
Access to more patient data can improve patient care in a number of ways, according to survey respondents. More data means more information to inform patient visits, they said. Hospitals can also use this data to analyze the burden of chronic disease in their facility or to learn more about a specific patient population. In addition, hospitals use data from health information exchanges to identify patients who may need care.
Beyond the opportunity to improve patient care, health systems are also engaging in health information sharing to maintain a competitive edge in their markets, form data-sharing partnerships with other providers and retain clinicians by reducing their administrative burden, they said. CIOs and CMIOs.
The final two reasons cited by these leaders for why health systems are joining health information exchange are cost reduction and increased reimbursement. HHS’ Exchange Participation and Compliance Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) could help health systems reduce costs associated with extracting medical data from other organizations and prepare for CMS incentives that could reward TEFCA exchanges, the report said.
Currently, only a quarter of health systems meet TEFCA’s technical standards. However, two-thirds work towards this goal. That’s because the TEFCA exchanges could become an important factor determining Medicare reimbursement in the future, according to the report.
More than half (55%) of respondents found the data they received through health information exchanges to be reasonably or extremely useful for care delivery or analytical purposes. However, many respondents acknowledged that there is still room for improvement when it comes to data quality, saying they still see duplicate, incomplete or unwanted data in these exchanges.
Dave Cassel, senior vice president of operations at Health Gorilla, argues that the healthcare sector needs to improve the quality of its data so that health systems can get the most out of the exchange.
“As an industry, we definitely have work to do on data quality. Ironically, the more we advance in terms of interoperability, the more duplicate data we will have to deal with as all record sources for a particular patient will come together in a common understanding of history. Interoperability services must be able to sift through this duplication to make the data meaningful, rather than simply passing the duplication to the user,” he said in an emailed statement.
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