The sharing of information electronically (or health information exchange) plays a critical role in improving the cost, quality, and patient experience of health care, but there is very little electronic information sharing among clinicians, hospitals, and other providers, despite considerable investments in health information technology (IT) over the past five years.
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was signed into law on February 17, 2009, bringing with it significant investments in health IT. To date, more than $26 billion in investments have been made, most of which in the form of incentive payments to hospitals and eligible professionals who "meaningfully use" electronic health records (EHRs).
Since 2009, the adoption of EHRs has increased considerably. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the percentage of physicians who have adopted at least a basic EHR increased from 21.8 percent in 2009 to 48.1 percent in 2013. A survey of hospitals, published in Health Affairs, indicates that 44 percent of hospitals have adopted at least a basic EHR, up from 12.2 percent in 2009. There is widespread adoption of EHRs, but the level of electronic information sharing across such systems has not kept pace.
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