CHIME-KLAS Interoperability Report Finds Significant Gains in Access and Data Exchange

ANN ARBOR, MI AND SALT LAKE CITY, UT, Jan. 26, 2021 – Both providers and the companies that produce the hardware and software needed to exchange and use electronic heath information continue to make progress in their efforts to advance interoperable healthcare, according to a white paper released today by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and KLAS Research. The report highlights 10 trends in the industry based on data from a 2020 interoperability survey, with comparisons to results from past surveys.
The report shows steady progress in some areas related to interoperability and leaps forward in others. A total of 67% of provider organizations reported they often or nearly always had access to needed records in 2020, up from 28% in 2017. They noted improvements in functionality and usability for tasks like locating and viewing records. Many were increasingly optimistic that these changes will allow record exchange to have a greater impact on patient care in the future.  
Vendor support of data sharing improved between 2016 and 2020, with the biggest gains between partnering organizations using different EMRs.
KLAS has formally measured interoperability since 2015 to assess the adoption of solutions with a focus on frequency of use, ease of use, functionality and perceived benefit to patient care. In recent years, federal efforts to promote interoperability have been a lever for removing barriers and facilitating uptake. In 2018, for instance, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services renamed its “EHR Incentive Programs” to “Promoting Interoperability” with an emphasis on interoperability, the exchange of health information across systems and patients’ access to their health data; and the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act) includes interoperability and patient data access provisions.    
“For digital health to reach its full potential, we need to be able to safely and securely exchange information across the healthcare ecosystem,” said CHIME President and CEO Russell P. Branzell. “Interoperability is the linchpin. With the Cures Act and other federal initiatives promoting data sharing, we should see even more gains that ultimately will improve patient care. As is evident in the survey results, great strides have been made resulting in remarkable improvements. This required hard work for all parties involved and they should be congratulated on their collective efforts.”  
“While there’s always room for improvement, we were glad to see provider organizations report progress in data sharing across disparate EMRs,” said Adam Gale, President of KLAS. “Many EMR vendors have partnered with customers to push interoperability forward. Some have made a strategic decision to focus their efforts on specific aspects of interoperability, such as FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources). Now we must continue to expand that interoperability beyond the EHR and ensure we truly impact the care of patients.”
Other key findings:
  • Ambulatory clinics and smaller acute care hospitals are connecting more with affiliate hospitals’ EMR solutions.
  • Respondents are more or less evenly split over whether they get sufficient support from EMR companies to be successful. Cost posed the most frequently mentioned barrier, followed by a lack of a thorough understanding of provider workflows and organizational needs along with a lack of technical readiness.
  • 39% of respondents considered public health information exchanges the most valuable method for accessing patient data, while 36% chose national networks.
  • Patient-facing apps are the most commonly used tools, although app use is still in its early stages. More organizations report using proprietary application programming interfaces (APIs) than FHIR APIs, with patient-facing tools the most common use for both types.
  • When asked what the top interoperability use cases EMR companies should focus on in the next two to three years, the majority of respondents recommended enhancing patient record exchanges. Many also suggested capabilities to support population health and social determinants of health.
The white paper is free and available online to the public. To download the white paper, go here.
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an executive organization dedicated to serving chief information officers (CIOs), chief medical information officers (CMIOs), chief nursing information officers (CNIOs), chief innovation officers (CIOs), chief digital officers (CDOs) and other senior healthcare IT leaders. With more than 5,000 members in 56 countries plus two U.S. territories and over 150 healthcare IT business partners and professional services firms, CHIME and its three associations provide a highly interactive, trusted environment enabling senior professional and industry leaders to collaborate, exchange best practices, address professional development needs and advocate the effective use of information management to improve the health and care in the communities they serve. For more information, please visit chimecentral.org.
About KLAS
KLAS is a research and insights firm on a global mission to improve healthcare delivery. Working with thousands of healthcare professionals and clinicians, KLAS gathers data and insights on software, services and medical equipment to deliver timely, actionable reports and consulting services. KLAS represents the provider and payer voice and acts as a catalyst for improving vendor performance, highlighting healthcare industry challenges and opportunities, and helping build understanding and consensus for best practices. To learn more about KLAS, go to klasresearch.com/home.
Candace Stuart
Director of Communications and Public Relations, CHIME
Joshua Schneck
PR Counsel for KLAS Research

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