Though more and more healthcare providers have grown comfortable with using in-house EHRs, the challenges of data sharing are looming larger. The shortcomings of healthcare technology vendors may also be looming larger, too.
A new report sheds light on some of the dissatisfaction healthcare providers are feeling with their HIE vendors. The report, based on responses of 208 customers of 11 data-exchange vendors — including Caradigm, Cerner, dbMotion, eClinicalWorks, Epic, ICA, Medicity, Orion Health, OptumInsight, RelayHealth, and Siemens — shows satisfaction scores declined for 10 of the 11 vendors. Only Cerner’s satisfaction scores improved. To date, those vendors control approximately 80 percent of the market share.
According to the report, some of healthcare providers' concerns about their data-exchange vendors relate to a need for improved HIE connectivity between EHR systems.
The report comes at a time when HIEs are getting additional attention, as providers come to terms with Stage 2 of CMS’ “meaningful use” program, which includes a mandatory data-exchange objective. In order to successfully attest for Stage 2, and receive earmarked funds beyond Stage 1, CMS states that providers must “provide summary of care document for more than 50 percent of transitions of care and referrals with 10 percent sent electronically and at least one sent to a recipient with a different EHR vendor or successfully testing with CMS test EHR.”
Ed Daniels, a senior consultant for Point-of-Care Partners with a 30-year health IT background who worked on the National eHealth Collaborative’s HIE Leaders Report, told Physicians Practice EHR vendors will continue to feel greater pressure to amp up their technology now that CMS has made interoperability a core goal.
“I think we’ll see some pretty dramatic changes over the next few years,” said Daniels. “EHR vendors could do what they wanted for many years, but now they’re being driven by meaningful use and certification.”
Therefore, EHR vendors will have to change their approach of selling products with unique interfaces to products that conform to agreed-upon specifications outlined in the final rule issued in August.
“What I’ve been dreaming about for 30 years is becoming a reality,” said Daniels. “Right now it’s expensive to communicate because [a practice] has to create custom interfaces. But with the requirements that [burden] will be reduced and in some cases, eliminated.”