Hospitals are increasingly using data from electronic health records systems to support quality improvement efforts and to monitor patient safety, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology said Wednesday.
ONC names hospitals using EHR data most in clinical practice
Hospitals using Epic, Meditech and Cerner systems reported the highest use of EHR data to inform clinical practice, while those using EHRs from CPSI, MEDHOST or "other" vendors—a category that included developers like athenahealth, eClinicalWorks and GE Healthcare—were most likely to report not using EHR data for these purposes, ONC's report said.
The data brief only broke out data for hospitals using EHRs from Allscripts, Cerner, CPSI, Epic, McKesson, Meditech or MEDHOST.
Epic and Meditech were the only two vendors measured where the majority of hospitals reported using EHR data for all 10 of the uses included in the report.
Epic may have a leg up in this regard, as a result of the vendor's prevalence among large hospitals and academic medical centers. Epic boasts that all 20 of U.S. News & World Report's top-ranked hospitals in 2018-19 used its EHR.
By contrast, small, rural, critical-access and non-teaching hospitals all reported relatively low rates of EHR data use.
The report is the ONC's first data brief detailing how hospitals are using EHR data. Previous reports from the agency tended to focus on EHR adoption.
"Today, more than 95% of hospitals possess an EHR," the report reads. "With widespread adoption of EHRs, policy is now shifting towards the use of EHR data."
For the brief, the ONC reviewed data from the American Hospital Association's IT surveys to assess how non-federal acute-care hospitals used EHR data from 2015 to 2017.
Most hospitals—94%—were using EHR data to inform clinical practice in various ways as of 2017, up from 87% in 2015, according to the brief. That included using EHR data to support quality improvement efforts (82%), monitor patient safety (81%) and measure organization performance (77%), among seven other measures that the ONC tracked as part of the report.
Two of the 10 measures that experienced the biggest jump between 2015 and 2017 were hospitals using EHR data to identify high-risk patients, which rose from 53% to 68%, and using EHR data to identify care gaps for patients, which rose from 48% to 60%.
Hospitals' use of EHR data "varied significantly" by vendor, according to the brief.
While HHS' policies have focused on spurring EHR adoption among hospitals in recent years, the department is increasingly concerning itself with making this data actionable. In February, the ONC and the CMS proposed two interoperability rules, outlining how regulators will require providers and insurers to share medical data with patients and one another.
"The trend towards greater use of EHR data is likely to continue with the forthcoming implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act," the report reads. "Thus, understanding how hospitals are currently using their EHR data is important as policy initiatives seek to incentivize hospitals to use their EHR data for performance and population health management."
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.