Physicians Give Healthcare Industry a Failing Grade on Interoperability

Nearly all physicians report experiencing a delay or difficulty delivery medical care because a patient's health record was not accessible, according to a survey prepared by athenahealth.

Nearly all physicians report experiencing a delay or difficulty delivery medical care because a patient’s health record was not accessible, according to a survey prepared by athenahealth of nearly 3000 physicians who use the Epocrates medical reference app.

Only 14% of physicians can access electronic health information across all care delivery sites despite the fact that 79% said the ability to access relevant patient data from other electronic health record (EHR) systems was “very important.”

Even physicians working within the same organization have difficulty sharing patient information with only 44% reporting they have this sharing capability.

"This survey confirms what we hear anecdotally from providers every day—in healthcare, we can capture and store data electronically, but we fail miserably at sharing it across the care continuum," Jonathan Bush, chief executive officer of athenahealth, said in a statement. "Being interoperable on paper or via system certification alone isn't good enough; vendors must take measures to advance actual interoperation activity across healthcare."

The majority of physicians (85%) blame EHRs’ technical shortcomings for the lack of information flow, 62% blame established obstacles from EHR vendors, and 55% blame obstacles from hospitals and health systems.

Medication lists are the most likely type of information to incomplete, inaccurate, or unavailable, according to 77% of respondents, followed by labs and imaging tests (64%). Overall, 61% of the physicians who were surveyed gave the health industry a D or an F grade (failing) for achieving interoperability and only 14% gave the industry a grade of B or higher.

With the majority of patients being treated at multiple locations, 93% of physicians support shifting to a more patient-centered information model so patient information can be collected across disparate care teams.

"We believe healthcare organizations that embrace patient-centered information exchange will be the most profitable in the future," said Todd Rothenhaus, MD, chief medical officer and senior vice president of Network Knowledge at athenahealth.