A recent analysis of the impact of health information exchanges, which allow health-care providers to share patient records electronically and securely, shows the systems hold promise for reducing health costs and unnecessary care in emergency departments.
For the study (subscription required), University of Michigan researchers examined information on hospital health information exchange participation and affiliation from the Health Information Management Systems Society's annual survey as well as data the California and Florida state emergency department databases from 2007 through 2010. Both states were early adopters of health information exchanges. According to a university release:
The findings show that the use of repeat CT scans, chest X-rays and ultrasound scans was significantly lower when patients had both their emergency visits at two unaffiliated hospitals that took part in a [health information exchange]. The data come from two large states that were among the early adopters of [health information exchanges]: California and Florida.
Patients were 59 percent less likely to have a redundant CT scan, 44 percent less likely to get a duplicate ultrasound, and 67 percent less likely to have a repeated chest X-ray when both their emergency visits were at hospitals that shared information across an [health information exchange].
More research is needed to determine the value of health information exchanges on patient care and health-care costs. But in order to conduct future analysis, said study authors, more states need to report relevant data to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project system to allow researchers to view the activity of individual patients across their different medical encounters, while preserving patient privacy.
Previously: Experts brainstorm ways to safely reduce health-care costs, U.S. Olympic team switches to electronic health records and A new view of patient data: Using electronic medical records to guide treatment
Photo by Tabitha Kaylee Hawk