Survey: Big jump in health IT efforts

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Over the past year there has been a big increase in interest levels and also activity associated with electronic information exchanges, according to survey results recently released by the eHealth Initiative Foundation.

"A number of new HIE [health information exchange] initiatives have emerged over the last year and, in general, such efforts have matured considerably with respect to engagement of key stakeholders, organization and governance, the range of functionality provided and the technical aspects of HIE," the survey said.

The survey looked at 109 health information exchange initiatives in 45 different states, including the District of Columbia. The findings suggest a "rapid maturation" in developmental stages of the exchanges in the initiatives. For instance, the reported number of efforts viewed as 'fully operational' has risen from nine last year to 25 in 2005.

A number of key drivers behind information exchange adoption were also identified by the survey, with concerns over provider inefficiencies due to a lack of data (77 percent) and soaring healthcare costs (60 percent) at the top. The other core drivers include: Availability of grand funding (44 percent), increased national attention to HIT and HIE (37 percent), public health surveillance needs (29 percent), and demand for performance information (21 percent).

Survey participants included clinicians, employers and other healthcare purchasers, laboratories, pharmacies, state and federal agencies, among others.