40% of hospitals say public health agencies can't electronically receive COVID-19 data  

More than 40 percent of hospitals report local, state and federal public health agencies are unable to electronically receive data, making it the most common barrier to public health reporting for the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association

Researchers from the University of San Francisco medicine department, Harvard Business School and Indiana University's school of public health used 2018 American Hospital Association data to identify barriers to surveillance data reporting. The research team then integrated the analysis with data from the Harvard Global Health Institute on the projected impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on hospital capacity at the hospital referral region level. The analysis comprised data from 3,512 hospitals in 302 hospital referral regions across the U.S. 

Here are the top barriers to COVID-19 electronic surveillance reporting listed by the hospitals, according to the study: 

  • Public health agencies inability to electronically receive hospital data: 41.2 percent
  • Interface-related issues such as costs or complexity: 31.9 percent 
  • Difficulty extracting data from EHR: 14.7 percent 
  • Different vocabulary standards: 14.2 percent 
  • Hospitals lacking ability to electronically send data: 8.3 percent 
  • Hospitals don't know which public health agencies to send data: 3.3 percent

The researchers concluded policymakers should prioritize public health IT infrastructure investments as well as health system IT to better manage the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future pandemics. 

More articles on EHRs and interoperability: 
Highmark, Gravity Project partner to develop social determinants of health data standards in EHRs
Valley Children's Healthcare completes virtual Epic EHR go-live 
Allscripts' Veradigm partners with Surescripts

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