63% of hospitals share data with facilities treating the same patients, study finds

Hospitals often don't share clinical information with facilities treating shared patients, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

To determine whether hospitals that routinely share patients with one another also exchange clinical information, Jordan Everson, PhD, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., and Julia Adler-Milstein, PhD, an associate professor at UC San Francisco, used Medicare's Physician Shared Patient Patterns data to identify pairs of hospitals with the highest volume of shared patients within various hospital referral regions. They then compared rates of data exchange between these pairs to rates of data exchange with other hospitals.

Sixty-three percent of hospitals routinely exchange patient data with the hospital they share the highest volume of patients with, according to the researchers' analysis of 68 hospitals with 63 pairs.

Twenty-three percent of respondents indicated worse data sharing with their highest shared patient hospital, while 17 percent of hospitals reported better data sharing with their highest shared patient hospital. Almost half of hospitals included in the study — 48 percent — indicated no difference in rates of data sharing between their highest shared patient hospital and other hospitals.

The study authors concluded that data sharing is not developing in a way that "facilitates information exchange where it might benefit the most patients."

"New policy efforts, particularly those emerging from the 21st Century Cures Act, need to explicitly pursue strategies that ensure that [highest shared patient] providers engage in exchange with each other," they wrote.

In June, CMS proposed a new rule that would require hospitals participating in Medicare to electronically share medically necessary information with other providers when a patient is transferred or discharged.  

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