New Study Highlights Growing Support for Health Information Technology in Massachusetts

July 17, 2014
Source: 
Massachusetts eHealth Institute

Survey Research Shows Increased Adoption of Health IT by State’s Healthcare Providers; Massachusetts Consumers Indicate Strong Support for Health IT and Sharing Health Data; Want Assurance of Security

BOSTON- A study released today by the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI) highlights growing adoption and acceptance of health information technologies, or Health IT, by healthcare 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, which launched today during an event at the Massachusetts State House.

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

An overwhelming 87 percent of consumers surveyed were positive about sharing health data over the MA HIway, the Commonwealth’s statewide health information exchange, when they learned that patient consent is required to share data over that system. Eighty-four percent (84%) 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 percent ‘expressed concern’ about the privacy and security of the information. 

“Accelerating adoption of health information technology is important for Massachusetts as a model for the country,” said Pamela Goldberg, CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “Health IT impacts health care delivery, coordination, and costs. This study shows that the Commonwealth has made significant progress with EHR and HIE adoption, and we look forward to the continuing work ahead.”

The event at the Massachusetts State House featured stakeholders from the healthcare community and policy leaders such as Senate President Therese Murray, an advocate for the use of health information technology in the Commonwealth to improve care coordination and address health care costs.

“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) said. “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 health IT among Massachusetts primary care and specialty care providers is progressing well, as these groups reporting over a 90 percent EHR adoption rate;
  • Health information exchange (HIE) is on the radar of a clear majority of providers, with 26 percent reporting they are participating in HIE and 68 percent of those not currently connected say they plan 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 percent;
  • Consumers are excited about healthcare technology and have an overwhelmingly positive attitude toward health IT adoption and use, with 78 percent saying that the move from paper to electronic health records will improve care.

The goal of the MeHI research is to provide comprehensive information on the use, needs and attitudes towards health IT among Massachusetts healthcare 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 healthcare sector leaders and drive our action agenda,” said Laurance Stuntz, Director of the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech. “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.”

MeHI commissioned the survey research, which was overseen by Market Decisions LLC, a leading health industry research firm. To develop the data necessary to achieve these objectives, Market Decisions conducted a combination of telephone-based and digital surveys of three different target populations in the Massachusetts healthcare system, including:

  • 507 managers of healthcare practices;
  • 308 individual healthcare providers; and
  • 807 individual consumers.

This random sample was stratified by six geographic regions to ensure that consumers from all areas of the Commonwealth were included, and the data was weighted so the results accurately reflect the views of practices, providers and consumers across the Commonwealth.

The full report, including an overview section, charts and graphs, and information on the survey methodology can be found on MeHI’s website at .

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About the Massachusetts eHealth Institute
The Massachusetts eHealth Institute (MeHI) at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative is the state's entity for health care innovation, technology, and competitiveness and is responsible for advancing the dissemination of health information technology throughout Massachusetts, including the deployment of electronic health records systems in all health care provider settings and connecting them through the HIway, the statewide health information exchange. For more information, please visit mehi.masstech.org and follow @MassEHealth.