Few U.S. Hospitals Can Fully Share Electronic Medical Records

Lisa Rapaport | Reuters | October 2, 2017

Less than one in three U.S. hospitals can find, send, and receive electronic medical records for patients who receive care somewhere else, a new study suggests. Just 30 percent of hospitals had achieved so-called interoperability as of 2015, the study found. While that’s slight improvement over the previous year, when 25 percent met this goal, it shows hospitals still have a long way to go, researchers report in Health Affairs.

“What this means is there is potentially a significant amount of waste and inefficiency in hospitals,” said lead study author Jay Holmgren of Harvard Business School in Boston. Without access to patient records, doctors might re-order tests that have already been done somewhere else, or make treatment decisions without a full picture of any allergies or underlying medical conditions.

“And, without a system for getting electronic patient data to clinicians, the responsibility falls on patients and their families, who often resort to bringing printouts of records from one hospital to another,” Holmgren said by email. “It just adds to the burden of being sick.” For the study, researchers examined survey data from hospitals that belong to the American Hospital Association (AHA)...