However, challenges remain, said Jennifer Covich Bordenick, CEO of the eHealth Initiative, in a written statement. "Coordinating public- and private-sector efforts and communicating the true value of HIT and HIE to consumers will be critical as we move forward," she noted.
As part of the assessment process, the eHealth Initiative—an independent, multistakeholder group that describes its mission as driving improvements in healthcare quality, safety and efficiency through health IT—conducted an informal online survey of healthcare systems, hospitals and healthcare organizations to offer a snapshot about the e-health landscape.
More than 60% of the respondents agreed that substantial progress has been made in the successful adoption and use of IT over the past three years. Nearly 55% of the more than 500 respondents, though, indicated that the value of health IT isn't clearly understood.
Additionally, approximately two-thirds of respondents said they're skeptical of the effectiveness of outreach initiatives to educate consumers about the value of electronic health records and health IT.
The majority—66.1%—thought regional extension centers and the national Health Information Technology Research Center would be vital in teaching healthcare providers about new technologies.
Beyond conducting the survey, the eHealth Initiative convened multistakeholder committees representing several sectors of the healthcare community to conduct a literature review of the research, policy and market activity of electronic health initiatives over the past three years.
After reviewing the landscape, the groups outlined a number of trends. In particular, they noted, providers perceive a lack of coordination across the government's health and health IT initiatives.
Providers are concerned that the processes and metrics for accelerating adoption and use of health IT and exchanges may deter provider participation, delaying the transformation to a patient-centered system, the report stated. “Also, there is concern that concurrent programs driving payment reform and coding updates could discourage” health IT adoption.
Knowledge and transparency of privacy and security policies will be the key to building consumer trust of health IT, the groups concluded. In addition, more education and outreach to consumers about health IT and health information exchange will be required.
The eHealth Initiative's progress report was supported by the New York-based Commonwealth Fund.