Federal electronic health-record incentive payment programs appear to be accelerating the adoption and use of higher-level health information technology functions at U.S. hospitals, according to the latest data from HIMSS Analytics, the market-analysis arm of the Chicago-based Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.
HIMSS Analytics measures the sophistication of hospital EHR systems in use through surveys, applying reported data against its own, eight-stage—Stage 0 through Stage 7—Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model.
In a news brief released Monday
, the HIMSS unit reported on its analysis of changes in adoption levels over five calendar quarters beginning with the third quarter of 2011, the first full quarter after Medicare EHR incentive payments began to flow under a program created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Data for the fourth quarter of 2012 will be available later this month.
According to HIMSS, the number of hospitals that have achieved its Stage 5 and Stage 6 rankings have increased by more than 80% over the five-quarter period, while those reaching the top level, Stage 7, have increased 63%.
“It's an accelerating growth, and it's gratifying and about time,” said John Hoyt, executive vice president of HIMSS Analytics.
Still, according to HIMSS data, only 1.8% of U.S. hospitals rank at Stage 7
, while 7.3% are rated at Stage 6. Both require hospitals to be able to electronically share patient information with other providers.
“Facilities moving to the upper stages of EMRAM are laying the groundwork for interoperability to occur,” Hoyt said. “Stage 6 and Stage 7 hospitals are fully prepared for provider-to-provider or facility-to-facility interoperability, as well as increasing the provider or facility's ability to provide electronic health data reporting to public health and immunization registries to support population health review and syndromic surveillance.”