Fewer than 1 in 3 hospitals can share medical data

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Just under 30 percent of U.S. hospitals achieved interoperability as of 2015, according to a study published in Health Affairs.

A team of researchers — led by Jay Holmgren, a doctoral student in health policy at the Cambridge, Mass.-based Harvard Business School — published their findings in a paper titled "Progress in Interoperability: Measuring U.S. Hospitals' Engagement in Sharing Patient Data."

To track hospitals' progress toward interoperability, the researchers followed a cohort of 2,636 hospitals from 2014 to 2015 and examined their interoperability measures based on the IT Supplement of the American Hospital Association Annual Survey.

The researchers found from 2014 to 2015, the number of hospitals that achieved interoperability increased by 2.5 percent. Additionally, 43 percent of hospitals reported they had outside clinical information available electronically yet 18.9 percent reported never using it — contrary to 35.3 percent of hospitals that reported using this outside electronic information often or sometimes.

"Our results reveal that hospitals’ progress toward interoperability is slow and that progress is focused on moving information between hospitals, not on ensuring usability of information in clinical decisions," the paper reads.

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