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Benefits of HIE Have Not Been Realized Yet, Researchers Find

March 19, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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The benefits of health information exchange (HIE) have not yet been realized, according to a recent assessment from researchers at the School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

Researchers synthesized and quantitatively assessed 27 health information exchange benefit studies and revealed that there is little evidence that HIEs have improved the speed, quality, safety and cost of patient care. The authors of the paper noted that they aren't saying there are no benefits to HIE, it’s just premature to count them as a worthy investment.

 “We need to eliminate any confounding issues implicating the correlation between benefits and HIE,” Nir Menachemi, Ph.D a professor at IUPUI and author of the assessment said in a statement. “For example, how do we know that the correlation between computerization and good outcomes isn't really just being driven by the fact that early adopters of HIE are exemplary health care providers? We need to rule out those kinds of things.

The researchers determined that prior studies designed to identify causal relationships were significantly less likely to find a benefit from health information exchanges for all outcomes except health care cost measures than studies not using such designs. Two of six such studies found beneficial effects largely as a result of a reduction in diagnostic and imaging tests, associated costs or both, and these studies were based in a single clinic affiliated with an Indiana hospital or in one health care system in Israel.

The assessment was published in a recent issue of Health Affairs.

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