Med-record-release business still trumping EHRs

Electronic health-record systems (EHR) won’t put an end to the ROI (Release of Information) business any time soon due to the still low levels of information technology systems in place in hospitals.

Electronic health-record systems won’t soon put an end to a niche industry that has grown up around outsourcing the release of medical records to patients and other organizations, according to both providers of and users of the service.

The prospects are good for the business called release of information, or ROI, only partly because of the relatively low levels of penetration of EHRs in healthcare, those same sources contend. Recent surveys by a team of Harvard researchers working under an HHS contract found that only 12% of hospitals have deployed even the most basic EHR system, and just 1.7% of hospitals have a full-featured EHR implemented across all hospital units. EHR adoption in ambulatory care remains similarly low, with 17% of practices using a bare-bones system and 4% with a complete EHR, according to the same researchers.

Still, most hospitals have started down the road to information technology adoption and many have multiple components of an EHR in place, often from different technology vendors. The hodgepodge creates system integration problems for both clinical and financial data users, but opportunities for ROI workers. It’s their job to take the disparate patient records—some on paper and some electronic—and create a cohesive whole copy for use outside the healthcare organization.

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