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Google: 9 in 10 Docs Say Interoperability, Data Exchange Top Priority

With enhanced interoperability and streamlined patient data exchange, providers can bolster patient-centered care delivery for improved outcomes.

Enhanced interoperability and patient data exchange allows providers to deliver patient-centered care, according to a survey conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of Google Cloud.

The survey collected responses from upwards of 300 physicians across the country.

Almost 9 in 10 physicians (87 percent) reported that data interoperability should be a priority at their healthcare organization right now, with 38 percent saying it should be a high priority. 

Most physicians (86 percent) said that increased data interoperability will significantly cut back on the time it takes to diagnose patients, and 95 percent reported that improved interoperability will bolster patient outcomes (95 percent).

Physicians also noted that improved access to patient data would allow them to foster better patient-provider communication (60 percent). Additionally, more than half of providers said that enhanced interoperability would help them identify high-risk patients more quickly (59 percent) and recommend appropriate treatments (56 percent).

Overall, 96 percent of respondents agreed that easier access to critical information may help save someone’s life. However, the survey found that while the EHR aims to improve patient care, burdensome clinical documentation processes within the EHR hinders physicians’ ability to deliver high quality, patient-centered care. These administrative tasks can also contribute to clinician burden.

Most respondents (91 percent) reported that they wish their healthcare organization operated more efficiently so they had more time to deliver patient-centered care.

More than 9 in 10 (92 percent) physicians noted that the use of inefficient EHR systems that include pop-ups and require excessive scrolling and manual data entry has negatively affected their ability to deliver high quality care.

Clinicians reported that just a small reduction in administrative labor would lead to more patient-centered care delivery; 90 percent of respondents said that if they could reduce the time they spend on clinical documentation and review of their patients’ healthcare records by just five percent, they would be able to provide more personalized care.   

On average, providers spend four hours every day reviewing or updating patients’ healthcare records. What’s more, 9 percent of physicians said that that they spend at least 10 hours each day on clinical documentation.

Many physicians (62 percent) said that they often need to enter the same clinical data into multiple systems and 68 percent reported that they spend too much time toggling between different health record systems.  

Almost all physicians (94 percent) are in favor of increased data interoperability at their care organization and most (86 percent) said that they believe the benefits of enhanced interoperability far outweigh any potential challenges.

The survey found that current interoperability efforts have effectively enhanced high quality care delivery at care organizations across the country.

Nearly all physicians (95 percent) at organizations with data interoperability measures in place reported that enhanced access to patient health information has allowed them to provide the highest quality patient care; 1 in 4 (26 percent) reported  that access has been very beneficial.

Interoperability has become more important than ever as providers increasingly refer patients to post-acute care (PAC) services such as home health, hospice, palliative care, and private duty homecare. Separate research has highlighted a growing shift providers’ perception of interoperability.

A 2019 survey found that 60 percent of referring physicians said they would change PAC partners to those that they believe can more effectively process electronic referrals. When the researchers conducted the survey again in 2020, 74 percent of physicians said they would change PAC partners due to interoperability issues.

With a better grasp on the importance of interoperability, many PAC providers sought to improve their EHR systems in 2020. More than half (58 percent) of PAC providers reported that their EHR systems have made progress over the past year in terms of interoperability.

However, the research revealed that there is still a long way to go; 79 percent of PAC respondents said they are not fully satisfied with their EHR system’s ability to support interoperability efforts.

National networks like CommonWell Health Alliance and Carequality have stepped in to help advance interoperability across the care continuum. In these networks, care providers, EHR vendors, and data exchange vendors all leverage the same health information exchange (HIE) standards.

“These scalable networks provide the surrounding services that take interoperability from specifications to out-of-the-box usability and scalable functionality – such as connectivity, privacy, security, audit trails, brokered query and retrieval, and an exponentially growing set of endpoints with which patient-centric interoperability can be enabled,” the report authors explained.

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