Missouri hospitals are making significant investments in health information technology, according to a new special report released by the Missouri Hospital Association. Hospitals’ investment in electronic health records promises new opportunities for quality improvement in Missouri’s health care delivery system and an economic boost through expansion of jobs in the state’s health care and information technology sectors.
“Hospital’s progress on EHR implementation is vitally important to our health care system in Missouri,” said Herb B. Kuhn, MHA president and CEO. “There are federal incentives for hospitals that are contingent on demonstrating meaningful use of the technology in 2011. These funds will not only partially offset part of the cost of adoption for hospitals, but it also will increase economic investment and the addition of technology jobs.”
The report tracks Missouri hospitals’ progress across four main areas of use and 24 basic quality and performance functions. The data indicate that 60 percent of hospitals reported operation of a certified EHR system and the intention to seek federal incentives during the next two years.
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In the four main areas of functionality — electronic clinical documentation, results viewing, computerized provider order entry and decision support — progress was uneven. More than 80 percent of hospitals report the implementation of electronic clinical documentation for patient demographics. Another area of progress was the ability to view lab and imaging results. Of the hospitals surveyed, 77 percent have electronic viewing of laboratory reports, 75 percent can view radiology images and 74 percent can view radiology reports through their EHR system. Progress has been slower in the adoption of computerized provider order entry and the exchange of clinical data with other providers.
“Many hospitals were investing in EHRs before the federal incentives,” Kuhn said. “These hospitals and health systems have a running start at many of the internal functions of documentation and results viewing. The slower integration of computerized provider order entry and clinical information exchange systems represent the challenges of adopting systems to integrate a historically fragmented records system.”
Challenges notwithstanding, Missouri’s hospitals have made progress toward the adoption of EHRs. In the survey conducted this spring, 44 percent of hospitals report having 13 or more EHR functions fully implemented. In 2010, hospitals reported 10.7 integrated functions and 8.9 functions in 2009. Although only 60 percent of hospitals report they are ready to apply for federal incentives, nearly all hospitals are investing in EHRs. In the 2009 survey, 84 percent of Missouri hospitals were using EHRs at some level. The most recent data indicate 90 percent now have EHR capabilities.
“The tornado in Joplin emphasizes the importance and utility of EHRs,” Kuhn said. “As it has been widely reported, the destruction of paper records did not hinder clinical care because patient data was electronic and accessible. EHRs are a blessing for hospitals and patients alike.”
Hospital data for the report were generated from the 2010 IT supplement survey received by hospitals in March. The IT supplement is a component of the annual hospital survey process, a joint partnership between MHA, the American Hospital Association and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The “Status of Electronic Health Records in Missouri Hospitals” summarizes survey responses from 145 Missouri hospitals that submitted complete IT supplements before May 31.
The Missouri Hospital Association is a not-for-profit association in Jefferson City that represents 151 Missouri hospitals. In addition to representation and advocacy on behalf of its members, the association offers continuing education programs on current health topics and seeks to educate the public, as well as legislative representatives, about health care issues.