Participating in a health information exchange (HIE) will allow hospitals and doctors to cut down on unnecessary costs for their patient population, suggests a new study from the University of Michigan.
For the study, researchers looked at scans done on patients who went to two emergency departments that share an HIE in a 30-day period. Ultimately, they found that a fewer amount of patients who went to a hospital that takes part in an HIE were given repeated CT scans, chest X-rays and ultrasound scans. Specifically, 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 HIE.
The emergency department was chosen because the teams who work in one need information quickly in order to diagnose and treat a patient.
"The emergency department is an important test case for whether we would see any impact from HIEs on rates of repeat imaging," stated Eric Lammers, Ph.D., from the University Michigan School of Public Health, who co-authored the study. "The fact that we find that there is a decrease is in and of itself significant."
The researchers say these findings, while focused on one particular aspect of healthcare costs, serve as a good test case for an HIE's usefulness. They claim it's one of the first studies to show that HIEs may deliver the increased efficiency they promise, with data.
The researchers used data from the California and Florida State Emergency Department Databases, for 2007 through 2010, and information on hospital HIE participation and affiliation from the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual survey. The findings were recently published online in the journal Medical Care.
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