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HIT Thriving in Massachusetts

A study released by the Massachusetts eHealth Institute (MeHI) at MassTech highlights growing adoption and acceptance of HIT by health care providers in the Commonwealth as well as strong consumer support for the use of technologies that electronically store and share health data. The survey data is included in the 2014 MeHI Provider and Consumer Health IT Research Study.

The study found that 96% of primary care practices and nearly 80% of all health care organizations in Massachusetts report they are using EHR systems—and 50% of consumers indicated they have used HIT to directly communicate with their health care provider, review test results, renew prescriptions, or schedule appointments.

An overwhelming 87% of consumers surveyed were positive about sharing health data over the MA HIway, the Commonwealth’s statewide health information exchange (HIE), when they learned that patient consent is required to share data over that system. Eighty-four percent said they would support the exchange via the HIway knowing information would be sent through secure connections and that providers are responsible for security of the information. Privacy and security of the data was a core issue for consumers, as 69% expressed concern about the privacy and security of the information.

“As our health care system changes and evolves, any reforms we make to our system must make technology a priority,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) says. “Health information technologies have significant potential to drive down health care costs, resulting in savings for the entire Commonwealth. This report by MeHI points to the progress we have made in implementing technologies like electronic health records and the health information exchange as well as facilitates an important discussion on how we can continue our success in the future.”

Key findings in this report include the following:

• Adoption of HIT among Massachusetts primary care and specialty care providers is progressing well, as these groups reporting over a 90% EHR adoption rate.

• HIE is on the radar of a clear majority of providers, with 26% reporting they are participating in HIE and 68% of those not currently connected planning to participate in HIE. Survey respondents indicated additional clarity and support for these providers is required.

• Focus is needed on increasing EHR adoption in other sectors, particularly behavioral health and long-term and post-acute care organizations, which show a lower adoption rate of 55%.

• Consumers are excited about health care technology and have an overwhelmingly positive attitude toward HIT adoption and use, with 78% saying that the move from paper to EHRs will improve care.

The goal of the MeHI research is to provide comprehensive information on the use, needs, and attitudes towards HIT among Massachusetts health care providers and consumers, and to identify key drivers for eHealth adoption across the Commonwealth.

“The conclusions drawn in the research will help MeHI assist policymakers and health care sector leaders and drive our action agenda,” says Laurance Stuntz, director of MeHI. “We will be working to support the advancement of health IT in health care sectors such as behavioral health and long-term and post-acute care, as well as supporting further innovation in the sector.”

The full report, including an overview section, charts and graphs, and information on the survey methodology, can be found on MeHI’s website at http://mehi.masstech.org/Survey2014.

Source: Massachusetts Technology Collaborative