A larger proportion of hospitals allow patients to view their health information through applications each passing year, but small, rural, independent, and critically accessible hospitals have been constantly behind the electronic access curve. , according to a new summary of government data.
The Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technologies (ONC) said this week that 7 out of 10 hospitals allowed hospitalized patients to access their health information through API-enabled applications from 2019, a leap significant compared to 46% of hospitals that reported the same in 2018.
The proportion of hospitals that allow hospitalized patients to see their clinical notes through a patient portal also increased during this window from 57% to 75%.
According to the document, access to data through a patient portal has remained generally high since 2016. In 2019, 97% of acute care hospitals allowed patients to view their data through ‘a portal, with 91% of downloads, 75% of data transfers and 73% of the three functions through a patient portal.
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The findings are part of a June ONC data summary (PDF) that calculates the possibility of electronic data access between hospitals nationwide. The office collected this data through a supplement to the 2019 American Hospital Association Annual Survey, which asked the health IT leader at each U.S. hospital to respond to these issues between early January 2020 and end of June 2020.
Although the overall trend was upward, the ONC noted that certain adjustments lagged behind the national average.
The proportion of hospitals that allowed access to application-based health information in 2019 was significantly different when directly comparing small hospitals with medium and large hospitals (66% vs. 75%), critical access hospitals. in non-critical access hospitals (62% vs. 74%), rural hospitals in suburban and urban hospitals (68% vs. 72%), and independent hospitals to those with system affiliation (61% vs. 75%).
“This indicates that access gaps may be due to hospital resources, technical expertise and other technological issues unrelated to the capabilities of certified EHRs,” the ONC wrote.
Electronic access to health information was almost similar in all hospital and outpatient settings in 2019, but decreased among hospitals using different EHRs in their outpatient centers.
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“This may reflect a lack of connectivity or technological capability to allow patients to access capabilities between different EHRs,” the ONC wrote. “Implementing standards-based APIs could reduce variation in enabling patient access capabilities in disparate EHR systems.”
In 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services had proposed rules that require hospitals to provide patients with access to their health information through a third-party application, among other interoperability and data blocking requirements.
Government regulations were finalized in early 2020, although deadlines for compliance were reduced several times due to the pandemic. Part of the regulations finally went into effect in April.
“As the new requirements of the final standard of the ONC Care Act are implemented, it will be important to continue monitoring these trends to ensure that hospitals allow patients with access to technology and health information to better manage their health care, ”the ONC wrote.