OCT 2, 2009 4:42am ET

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Survey Highlights Power, Limits of EHR Data


More than three-quarters of 732 surveyed executives at provider, payer and pharmaceutical organizations believe secondary use of data from electronic health records will be their organizations' greatest asset during the next five years.

But respondents also cite multiple barriers to best use of de-identified and aggregated health information. They also cite the necessity of guidelines for the usage of secondary data that is to be shared. New York consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted the e-mail survey in June, getting replies from 482 providers, 136 insurers and 114 pharmaceutical/life sciences organizations.

Sixty-five percent of surveyed providers use secondary data to some degree, as do 54% of payers and 66% of pharmaceutical firms.  Besides EHRs, this data can come from claims, clinical trials, laboratory and radiology reports, employers, and disease management companies. Those surveyed expect their use of such data to rapidly grow and already report such benefits as quality improvements, reduced costs, increased revenue and higher patient/member satisfaction.

Forty-one percent of surveyed pharmaceutical companies report having partial access to some clinical data in electronic health records and 10% report full access, leaving 49% with no access.

Only 39% of surveyed insurers offer personal health records to members, but few use them. Only 12% of these payers report that a majority of their members have filled out a PHR; 59% report less than 5% of members have done so.

Barriers to using secondary data among all surveyed organizations include:

  • Insufficient level of detail and integration (61%),
  • Timeliness of data (61%),
  • Completeness of data (54%),
  • Data not easily aggregated (53%),
  • Lack of data standards and coding (52%),
  • Accuracy of data (48%),
  • Insufficient tools to analyze the data (47%), and
  • Privacy and security (19%).

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