The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) will take a closer look at how physicians use health IT systems through a three-year cooperative agreement with the American Board of Family Medicine.

The goal is to get national data on how outpatient doctors use health IT systems and the related burden. The ONC will also track key measures of interoperability, such as whether office-based physicians electronically send, receive or find patient data.

This information will build on the results of a previous study in 2017, where the ONC found that 80% of office-based physicians used electronic health record systems, but only a tenth of them would send, receive find and integrate health data from outside of their networks.

At the time, only three in 10 physicians received summary of care records when patients transitioned between providers, and only a quarter of primary care physicians received hospital discharge summaries electronically.

During the three-year period between 2015 and 2017, the number of physicians who used EHRs didn’t change much, but 50% more physicians said they were able to electronically find data from outside sources.

The updated survey should give the ONC a better sense of whether this has improved since 2017. The ONC said it expects the information will help identify disparities or unintended consequences due to the use of health IT, and the impacts of current federal health IT policies.

As part of the agreement, the American Board of Family Medicine will also work with the ONC to develop key measures related to health IT use and interoperability.

Photo credit: cat-scape, Getty Images

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