Live Webinar | Medicare Payment and Reimbursement
Save
Live Webinar | Innovation and Disruption
Save
Live Webinar | Patient Financial Communications
Save
Live Webinar | Operations and Other Technology
Save
Blog | Technology

Various technical challenges affect hospitals’ ability to fulfill public-health reporting obligations

Blog | Technology

Various technical challenges affect hospitals’ ability to fulfill public-health reporting obligations

A report issued by a federal agency finds many hospitals struggling to exchange data electronically with public health agencies.

Hospitals face several obstacles in attempting to meet public-health reporting requirements, according to a report by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

The report was based on 2018 and 2019 survey responses in the American Hospital Association’s Information Technology supplement, meaning it’s a look at the pre-pandemic reporting landscape.

“While new challenges may have emerged or become exacerbated during the pandemic, this analysis identifies potential ongoing barriers to health information exchange among hospitals and public health agencies and provides insights into hospitals’ readiness to support key public health activities prior to the pandemic,” the report states.

Biggest challenges in public health reporting

Half of hospitals in 2018 and 2019 reported difficulty related to the electronic exchange of data with public health agencies. The two most frequently cited issues were:

  • Lack of capacity (e.g., technical, staffing) to exchange information electronically
  • Interface-related issues (e.g., costs, complexity)

Not surprisingly, small, rural, independent and critical access hospitals were more likely than other hospitals to run into obstacles, although issues regarding a lack of capacity were prevalent across hospital types.

Issues that were more common for small, rural, independent and critical access hospitals than for other hospitals included:

  • Interface-related issues
  • Difficulty extracting relevant information from the EHR
  • Confusion about where to send information to meet requirements

The report calls out that regulations published in 2020 introduced two new technical certification criteria, which were designed to improve the exchange of electronic health information using certified health IT systems.

“While both of these certification criteria are intended to facilitate patients’ access to their health information and interoperability among clinicians, these functionalities can also support public health reporting,” the report states. The criteria pertain to the exporting of electronic health information and standardized application programming interfaces for patient and population services.

A potential workaround: HIE membership

Participation in a health information exchange was associated with lower probability of experiencing some of the challenges related to public health reporting, including difficulty extracting information from the EHR and confusion about where to send information.

“Studies have shown that HIEs can support hospitals and public health agencies by addressing gaps in missing information, supporting public health reporting and monitoring, and providing other data services to help enable exchange,” the report states.

Federal funding is available to bolster HIE networks nationwide, the report notes.

About the Author

Nick Hut

is a senior editor with HFMA, Westchester, Ill. (nhut@hfma.org).

Sign up for a free guest account and get access to five free articles every month.

Advertisements

Related Articles | Technology

How To | Cost Effectiveness of Health

Cost Effectiveness of Health Report, April 2022

The April 2022 edition of HFMA’s Cost Effectiveness of Health Report includes a preview the May issue of hfm, which focuses on telehealth, a key tool for promoting value-based care CEoH. Another article explores ways to promote health equity in revenue cycle processes, and a case study describes how one health system embarked on an initiative to achieve greater diversity among its revenue cycle staff.

Article | Cost Effectiveness of Health

Telehealth is primed for growth despite post-lockdown fade

If our nation is to achieve true cost effectiveness of health, virtual healthcare must play a pivotal role. In this preview of the May 2022 hfm cover story, two health system leaders share lessons learned from their efforts to develop effective telehealth programs as a key component in their long-term value-focused care strategies, and two thought leaders weigh in on keys to telehealth success.

How To | Cost Effectiveness of Health

Cost Effectiveness of Health Report, March 2022

The March 2022 edition of HFMA’s Cost Effectiveness of Health Report addresses a key prerequisite to achieving cost-effectiveness: engaged caregivers. A preview of the April 2022 hfm cover story details how one health system has responded to its nurses’ need for increased scheduling flexibility, and a commentary explores steps for enabling physicians to play a leadership role in promoting CEoH. Also included is a Q&A exploring activities on the world stage aimed at achieving the United Nation’s sustainable development goals for healthcare and health equity – and how U.S. organizations can play a role.

News | Medicare Payment and Reimbursement

CMS cancels regulations that would ensure coverage of breakthrough medical devices, but new legislation could fill the void

Citing patient safety concerns among other issues, CMS formally canceled a Trump administration rule that would have required Medicare to cover breakthrough medical devices.