Emergency rooms with HIEs avoid repeat imaging

Emergency departments with health information exchanges are more likely to avoid repeat imaging, according to a study from the University of Michigan.

The study used regression with ED fixed effects and trends with a retrospective analysis of the impact of HIE participation on repeat imaging. Researchers compared 37 EDs that initiated HIE participation during the study period to 410 EDs that did not participate in HIE during the same time frame.

The study sample included 20,139 repeat CTs, 13,060 repeat ultrasounds and 29,703 repeat chest x-rays. HIE was associated with reduced probability of repeat ED imaging in all three modalities, reflecting reductions of 44 percent to 67 percent, relative to sample means.

Furthermore, the study finds that If all hospital EDs in California and Florida connected to an HIE, the two states could save $3 million annually by avoiding imaging repeats, according to GovernmentHealthIT. The country could save $19 million if every ED was connected to an HIE, the study finds.

"We speculate that this may be attributable to a cultural preference for more intensive use of medical technology in larger EDs, easier access to imaging (e.g., CT scanners physically located in the ED itself), or perhaps greater stress on staff resources in EDs that see more patients, thus leading to more intensive reliance on diagnostic technology," researcher Eric Lammers and colleagues wrote, according to GovernmentHealthIT. "In any event, this suggests there may be unique challenges that must be overcome to realize the greater potential reduction of repeat testing from HIE in these settings."

The study, which noted that it was among the first to find empirical support for this particular benefit of HIE, concluded that EDs with an HIE result in reduced repeat imaging.

EDs also benefit from HIE in other ways--data from an HIE can more accurately identify patients who visit hospital EDs frequently than a single site's records, according to research recently published in Health Affairs.

This summer, FierceMedicalmaging reported that the creation of a regional virtual private network (VPN) allowed a hospital in Seattle to use image sharing technology to reduce the need for repeat imaging of trauma patients transferred from one institution to another.

And in April, the Wall Street Journal reported that the growth of image sharing services, such as Image Share, can help informed patients avoid duplicative or repeat scans, as well as facilitate their ability to quickly get second opinions.

To learn more:
- read the study
- here's the Government Health IT article

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