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94% of Hospitals Use EHR Data to Inform Clinical Practices, ONC Survey Finds


The data brief reveals how non-acute federal care hospitals are using their EHR data.


Photos have been modified. Courtesy of Griffin.

Inside Digital Health™ received a comment from an ONC spokesperson after this post was published. The article has since been updated to include the comment.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released a data brief on hospitals’ use of electronic health records (EHR) data from 2015-2017 and found that 94% of hospitals used their EHR data to perform hospital processes that inform clinical practice.

The brief revealed a 7% increase in the number of hospitals using their EHR data from 2015 to 2016.

ONC collected data from the American Hospital Association (AHA) Information Technology Supplement to the organization’s annual survey. The survey tracked the adoption and use of EHRs and the exchange of clinical data. The sample included CEOs and health technology experts from 3,599 non-federal acute care hospitals.

"As part of ONC’s efforts to promote and support the interoperability of health information, it’s important for the office and the healthcare industry to understand how healthcare providers are using their EHR data to improve care delivery and ultimately patient outcomes," an ONC spokesperson wrote in an email to Inside Digital Health™.

The survey found that hospitals used their EHR data to support quality improvement (82%), monitor patient safety (81%) and measure organization performance (77%).

From 2015 to 2017, the number of hospitals using EHR data to identify care gaps for patients increased from 48% to 60%. The survey found an increase from 53% to 68% in the number that used the data to identify high-risk patients.

On average, hospitals boosted their use of EHR data to perform seven out of 10 clinical processes.

Small, rural and critical-access hospitals had the lowest rates of EHR data use to inform clinical practice. Hospitals with more than 100 beds, hospital systems, urban hospitals and teaching hospitals had the highest rates of EHR data use to inform clinical practice.

Epic, Meditech and Cerner were the EHR vendors with the highest use of their data to inform clinical practice. Hospitals most often used EHR data from those systems to support quality improvement, with Cerner at 89%, Epic at 96% and Meditech at 88%.

Hospitals using CPSI or Medhost were more likely to report not leveraging their EHR data.

Most hospitals reported that they were least likely to use their data to develop an approach to query for patient data.

The hospitals that engaged in the four domains of interoperability — send, find, receive and integrate — used their EHR data in more ways than those that did not embark on such an effort. Hospitals that engaged in a domain also used their data for at least seven processes, compared to four for those not engaged.

And hospitals that engaged in all four domains had the highest rates of EHR data use, with an average of 8.8 processes.

"An analysis of this and other data about providers’ exchange and use of health information is important to informing future ONC and industry-wide efforts to achieve interoperability as well as assessing how the use of health IT is helping to change health care in the nation," the spokesperson wrote.

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