by Gus Iversen
, Editor in Chief | January 30, 2015
New research from the University of Michigan adds early empirical evidence to a widely held assumption: health information exchange (HIE) systems can eliminate redundancies in patient care.
While there are myriad benefits associated with electronic health records (EHRs), the ability to share those records between hospitals via HIE systems, is crucial. Without doctors being able to keep track of what other doctors have already done, a visit to the emergency department can become an inefficient and repetitive experience.
To illustrate these benefits, the researchers took emergency department data from California and Florida from 2007-2010, and merged them with Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) data indicating which emergency departments were participating in HIE programs.
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They looked at patients who had been to two different emergency departments within a 30 day period to see which hospitals were responsible for the most redundancies.
Patients were 44 to 67 percent less likely to receive unnecessary CT scans, ultrasounds, or chest X-ray when both their emergency visits were at hospitals that shared information across an HIE.
While the large percentage of drop-off may be somewhat surprising, the overall results are not. Having secure and immediate access to crucial patient information should only improve on traditional information sharing - whereby some patients records still arrive via handwritten fax.