The sharing of electronic data among 12 Memphis-area emergency departments reduced hospital admissions and redundant imaging tests, according to a new study by researchers at Vanderbilt University. The EDs' total annual cost savings of $1.9 million were nearly all attributable to avoidance of admissions, the study found.
Dr. Mark Frisse, lead author of the paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, told Healthcare IT News that this was the first city-wide study of the impact of a health information exchange on emergency departments.
The researchers looked at all ED encounters in which HIE information was accessed during a 13-month period. HIE-access encounter records were matched with records of visits in which no HIE data was obtained to calculate the benefits of using an information exchange in emergency departments.
HIE data was obtained in 7 percent of the ED encounters. Clinicians in 11 of the EDs obtained the data through web browsers, while those in the twelfth ED depended more on print summaries of the data. Interestingly, the latter was the only department to show a significant drop in the use of CT scans and lab tests.
The Vanderbilt researchers believe that the savings demonstrated in the ED departments are only 2 percent of the cost reduction that could be achieved if all physicians were connected to HIEs, according to Frisse.