Findings Reveal Health Information Exchange Decreases Repeat Imaging

The use of health information exchange (HIE) systems to share reports on imaging tests, such as X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, can help reduce the number of times patients undergo the precisely same test. A new study suggests that HIE technology that gives healthcare providers immediate, electronic access to a patient’s medical ...

The use of health information exchange (HIE) systems to share reports on imaging tests, such as X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, can help reduce the number of times patients undergo the precisely same test. A new study suggests that HIE technology that gives healthcare providers immediate, electronic access to a patient’s medical history may optimize the quality of care while slashing excessive costs. 

“Medical imaging has been an important diagnostic tool for decades, but unnecessary or repeat exams are costly and could potentially delay access for patients who truly need the tests,” commented Dr. Joshua Vest, assistant professor of healthcare policy and research at Cornell Medical College (NY, NY, USA), and the lead author of the study. “Our research shows that timely sharing of patients' medical records may result in fewer repeated imaging tests. Instant access to this information gives providers a better, more complete picture of a patient’s health status.” 

Fueled by recent increases in federal and state funding, healthcare systems are increasingly adopting web-based HIE systems that consolidate patients’ diverse health information, such as lab tests, radiology reports, and hospital discharge summaries. The study evaluated the Rochester Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO; NY, USA), an HIE that—with patients’ permission—gathers their health records from multiple providers and insurers in western New York and makes that information available during office and emergency care visits. 

The researchers, who, published their findings January 14, 2015, in the American Journal of Managed Care, searched through data from insured patients who consented to sharing their imaging findings, and evaluated how frequently providers retrieved the patients’ electronic health records. After examining the number of repeat imaging tests performed within 90 days of the initial test, the researchers found that providers using HIE were 25% less liable than their peers to perform the same imaging test again. The study was funded by the New York State Department of Health’s Healthcare Efficiency and Affordability Law for New Yorkers (HEAL NY). 

Rochester RHIO has been very effective in implementing HIE and has a comprehensive research agenda, resulting in several significant studies, according to Dr. Vest. For instance, earlier this year, he and senior author Dr. Rainu Kaushal led a study in Rochester that showed that HIE reduced hospital admissions. 

“Rochester RHIO is leading a very valuable community initiative leveraging patient-centered health information technology for improved care delivery,” said Dr. Kaushal, chair of the department of healthcare policy and research, and professor of medical informatics at Weill Cornell, and public health physician-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital (New York, NY, USA). “As HIE for clinical purposes continues to expand, patients across the country will benefit as providers have more information readily available at the point of care.”

Source: www.hospimedica.com