EHR Integration Growingfor the Most Part

Article excerpt

Internal system connectivity continues to increase within practices, though not externally with hospitals

Medical Economics' latest survey of the primary care physicians (PCPs) involved in the EHR Best Practices Study reveals that they are continuing to integrate their internal systems with their patients' electronic health records (EHRs).

Connectivity between the EHRs and scheduling, billing, e-prescribing, laboratory, and imaging systems all show marked increases. In addition, integration with systems designed to maintain and enhance compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act also has increased.

As can be seen in the graphs on the opposite page, however, health information exchange continues to lag far behind other types of EHR integration and connectivity, as does the development and implementation of hospital interfaces. Does this status indicate a simple lack of interest in health information exchange and hospital interfacing among PCPs, or are bigger forces at work?

MYTHS EXPOSED

In a blog post titled "The myth of hospital integration," Robert Rowley, MD, a practicing PCP for 30 years and an early EHR developer, notes that of all the system integrations expected of independent physicians today, integrating with a local hospital is the most crucial and the most challenging.

"Most hospitals, not surprisingly, did not get to meaningful use via a single overall piece of software," he says. "Usually, it was a collection of elements that, together, could achieve the needed performance. Even large institutions with robust information technology infrastructure needed to do that."

According to Rowley, that situation accounts for much of the anecdotal "evidence" of failed EHR installations. Hospitals are engrossed in attempting to "knit together" all their disparate systems into one cohesive unit That, or they're already looking to "rip and replace" their older existing system with an integrated "modern" system that's designed from the start for enterprise-wide connectivity. …