Scientists at the Indianapolis-based Regenstrief Institute are conducting what they say is the first study of health information exchange (HIE) use over multiple years to evaluate whether it improves patient outcomes in emergency departments.
The work will measure actual use of health information exchange over time, across multiple institutions, with the aim to generate high-quality evidence of the value and benefit of health information exchange, or HIE, in the delivery of emergency care. The research is supported by a two-year award from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
"Findings from our new study could serve as a report card on potential benefits of HIE and as a template for HIEs as they mature," Regenstrief Institute investigator Brian E. Dixon, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI, the principal investigator of the new study, said in a statement.
The researchers noted that although HIE use is more frequently used in emergency settings than anywhere else in the healthcare system, not much research has been done on its long-term use—or its impact on patient care—in the emergency setting, where visits are unplanned, urgent and acute, and patient health information is not available beforehand to care providers.
They pointed out further that there is a dearth of knowledge about whether providers' use of health information exchange in the emergency department leads to actual improvements in patient outcomes. And there is limited existing information on which personnel in an emergency department use health information exchange and why those providers choose to do so.
The Regenstrief investigators will specifically review usage logs from the Indiana Network for Patient Care, one of the largest inter-organizational clinical data repositories in the country, to determine how frequently information from the health information exchange was used in the emergency department, for what kinds of patients, by what types of healthcare providers and under what conditions it was most useful. They will also determine which sections of patient medical records—for example, laboratory results, imaging studies, medication list or medical history—were accessed. In addition, they will review the outcome of the visit to determine whether the patient was admitted to the hospital.