Study shows HIE reduces redundant testing

Study shows health information exchange reduces redundant testing

As health IT implementation continues to become a vital factor to the success of care delivery for physicians around the country, industry experts are pushing enhanced interoperability and health information exchange. The sector has begun to realize how essential these aspects are to creating a health care industry that achieves better patient care outcomes and eliminates obstacles that stand in the way of improved care coordination. 

Study shows HIE reduces number of tests in emergency settings
One of the first steps to enhanced care coordination is implementing strategies that reduce medical errors that lower care quality. Health information exchange is key to making communication easier and more efficient throughout the industry, which ultimately decreases common mistakes like incorrect diagnoses and data input errors. These are known for having some of the most negative impacts on care delivery and outcomes. 

In addition to preventing errors like these, effective health information exchange can reduce rates of redundant testing among patients. A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association looked into how health information exchange impacts the rates of radiology examinations and laboratory tests in emergency rooms. The researchers hypothesized that it would decrease these rates. They performed the experiment in an emergency department in western New York. 

The study lasted two months and included a query about a health information exchange system that was answered during every patient encounter within the experimental group. For the control group, the patient encounters did not have a query.  

Providers were then chosen to study the medical history of a group of patients with the assistance of a health information exchange platform. After each history was studied, the results were given to the clinicians within the emergency department. Binomial regression was used to examine the information. Admission data collected over the course of one full year was also used to determine how the outcomes varied in the two groups. 

The findings pointed to the fact that health information exchange platforms have the potential to drastically reduce the number of tests performed, as the platform in the study decreased lab tests by 52 percent. There was also a 36-percent drop in the number of radiology exams required throughout the emergency department. The researchers concluded that the expansion of health information exchange would have significant advantages within the industry – providers would have more access to essential clinical data that would decrease testings in emergency settings.

Cybersecurity must be balanced with HIE
Physicians can expect to see a drop in medical errors and redundant testing after the implementation of health information exchange systems. However, privacy and security should always remain a major focus, as making data more transferable can also present challenges for keeping health information safe. 

In a recent survey by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, 297 health care leaders and information security officers across the industry were asked about cybersecurity. The results showed that the majority of the participants reported plans to make security and privacy a primary focus within the coming year. 

"The recent breaches in the healthcare industry have been a wake-up call that patient and other data are valuable targets and healthcare organizations need a laser focus on cybersecurity threats," Lisa Gallagher, vice president of Technology Solutions at the HIMSS, said in a public statement. "Healthcare organizations need to rapidly adjust their strategies to defend against cyberattacks. This means incorporating threat data, and implementing new tools and sophisticated analysis into their security process."

Approximately 50 percent of the health professionals said that they would be addressing data loss prevention, network security protocols and disaster recovery specifically. With the implementation of effective health IT and a commitment to enhanced cybersecurity, the health care industry can expect to see major advances within the next few years.