BURLINGTON -- Vermont Information Technology Leaders (VITL) today unveiled the results of a survey of 502 state residents regarding views about electronic health records and the state's health information exchange (HIE), which is managed by VITL. The HIE allows for the safe and secure sharing of patient health information by providers throughout the state.

Among some of the key highlights from the survey, which was conducted in February by Market Decisions in Portland, ME included a strong awareness of electronic health records (EHR), where providers create, store and manage patient health information using computers versus paper records, with 86 percent who have heard a lot (51 percent) or heard some (36 percent) about EHRs.

There also was a high level of awareness -- 77 percent -- of the HIE and 83 percent of residents also were very comfortable (40 percent) or somewhat comfortable (43 percent) with their health care provider storing their health information electronically.

When discussing the potential benefits of the HIE the survey found that Vermonters overwhelmingly agreed that the HIE will:

  • Help better coordinate care between health care providers (91 percent);
  • Allow health care providers access to the most accurate information about health care needs (90 percent);
  • Allow health care providers to make informed decisions regarding patient care (89 percent);
  • Increase patient safety (81 percent); and,
  • Reduce unnecessary tests and procedures (78 percent).

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"The results from the survey are very encouraging and health care consumers clearly understand the benefits of health information technology and in particular the benefits of sharing of patient health information through the HIE," said John K. Evans, VITL president and CEO. "The potential benefits that the respondents to the survey believe can be achieved through the sharing of patient health information will lead to better health care outcomes for all state residents, which is the collective goal of providers, VITL, the state of Vermont and the Green Mountain Care Board."

Survey respondents also overwhelmingly believe the HIE will improve care in specific scenarios. For instance, 93 percent of respondents indicated the HIE will improve health care when the patient's primary care physician has access to the most recent lab results prior to a preventative care visit which can avoid redundant and unnecessary tests.

Another 93 percent indicated that in the event of emergency care while the patient is away from home, the provider would have the ability to search medication history and other important information prior to treatment in the emergency room.

When respondents were asked whether they believed the HIE will improve care when a family member's provider is notified about the patient being discharged or transitioned to another health care facility such as a nursing home, 87 percent indicated such a scenario would improve health care for their loved one.

"There are many examples of how the HIE is improving care, but we need to continue to building the infrastructure to safely and securely exchange patient health information so that every resident can experience better outcomes from the health care system," Evans continued. "With the continued support of the state and the provider community Vermont is well on its way to creating a robust and vibrant HIE that we are confident will achieve these critically important outcomes."

The overall margin of error of the survey was +/- 4.5 percent. The data from the survey was weighted to reflect the actual adult population of Vermont based on age, gender, region of residence and cell phone only households.