Physician exchange of electronic data rises, but still a ways to go
Friday, December 09, 2016
The National Center for Health Statistics (a division of the CDC) recently published a data brief on variations in physician office health data exchange by state in 2015. The brief is filled with interesting data, much of which is instructive and eye-opening.
The feedback is detailed, so let's dig into a bit of it (pardon my recipe reading, but staying through the end may be a lot like getting to sample your mother's cookie batter before she threw the bowl in the sink for washing).
According to the research, the percentage of physicians who had electronically sent patient health information ranged from 19.4 percent in Idaho to 56.3 percent in Arizona. The percentage of physicians then who had electronically received patient health information ranged from 23.6 percent in Louisiana and Mississippi to 65.5 percent in Wisconsin.
The percentage of physicians who had electronically integrated patient health information from other providers ranged from 18.4 percent in Alaska to 49.3 percent in Delaware. Also, the percentage of physicians who had electronically searched for patient health information ranged from 15.1 percent in the District of Columbia to 61.2 percent in Oregon.
Clearly, there's a wide swing in the data here, but what we can see is that electronic exchange of data is quite meager in some areas of the country, while there's a bit of meat on the bones elsewhere.
In these overall measurements, though, there's a good opportunity to see some truth regarding data exchange numbers from a fairly reliable source — the federal government.
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), which is likely to impact healthcare for years to comes, in part provides financial incentives to eligible providers using a certified electronic health record (EHR) system. And 78 percent of office-based physicians had a certified EHR system in 2015, up slightly from about 74 percent.
Speaking of these office-based physicians, 38 percent sent, 38 percent received and 34 percent searched for patient health information from other providers. Decent numbers, as shown in the NCHS chart below.
In 2015, Idaho, Connecticut and New Jersey were behind the national average — 38.2 percent — of physicians who had sent information electronically to other providers. Arizona was well above the national average, with 56 percent of physicians exchanging information electronically to other providers.
When taking into consideration the percentage of physicians who had received information electronically from other providers, the numbers are all over the place there, too.
For example, below the national percentage of 38.3 percent were the physicians in Louisiana (23.6 percent), Mississippi (23.6 percent), Missouri (24.2 percent) and Alabama (24.3 percent). The following led the way: Massachusetts (52.9 percent), Minnesota (55 percent), Oregon (59.2 percent) and Wisconsin (65.5 percent).
Finally, according to the report, when factoring in the percentage of physicians who electronically searched for information from other providers, the numbers are quite low compared to other metrics in this report. For example, the national percentage of 34 percent was not even close to being met in the District of Columbia (15.1 percent), Mississippi (19.7 percent), Pennsylvania (20.8 percent), Texas (21 percent), Missouri (21.6 percent) and Oklahoma (22.8 percent). That's a lot of states well below the average.
However, 10 states — Ohio (47.2 percent), Alaska (47.3 percent), Colorado (47.5 percent), Maryland (47.9 percent), Virginia (48.3 percent), North Carolina (48.8 percent), Delaware (53.9 percent), Wisconsin (54.1 percent), Washington (58 percent) and Oregon (61.2 percent) — were well above the national average.
To close out our recipe reading, the report does provide a bunch of information about the state of interoperability among office-based physicians in 2015.
"Electronic sharing of patient health information by physicians will assist in tracking the progress outlined in the federal plan for achieving interoperability," the report notes.
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