Hospitals able to share more data in-house than with outside organizations

Hospitals that have implemented an interoperable health information exchange have prioritized sharing data within their organization (intra-system) over sharing data between different organizations (inter-system), according to a study published May 30 in the Journal of Informatics in Health and Biomedicine.

Interoperability between healthcare systems aims to allow for the seamless transition of data, but evidence on exactly how and where hospitals are sharing data is lacking. In this study, researchers from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, examined the relationship between hospitals intra- and inter-system information exchanges.

This study examined health system hospitals included in the 2010-2014 American Hospital Association’s Annual Health Information Technology Survey. Researchers identified factors associated with hospitals adopting intra-system rather than inter-system exchange capabilities—and how new capabilities could improve information sharing.

Results showed that, while the prevalence of data exchange did increase over time, hospitals adopted intra-system exchanges more often than inter-system versions changes. On average, hospitals were able to share 4.6 types of information with intra-system exchanges, while only 2.7 types were shared by inter-system exchanges. Additionally, hospitals exchanged more types of information through the intra-system exchange when more inpatient electronic health record vendors were used.

“Consistent with the U.S. goals for more widely accessible patient information, hospitals’ ability to share information has increased over time,” concluded first author Joshua Vest, PhD, MPH, and colleagues. “However, hospitals are prioritizing within-organizational information exchange over exchange between different organizations. If increasing inter-system exchanges is a desired goal, current market incentives and government policies may be insufficient to overcome hospitals’ motivations for pursuing an intra-system-information-exchange-first strategy.”