HIE offers quick access to outside info to improve ED care

Health information exchanges (HIE) can improve emergency department care by providing faster access to patient information from outside sources, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA).

The researchers reviewed the records of 2,163 patients seen in the ED at the University of Michigan Health System where clinicians requested outside information. Of the 4,451 outside information requests, 18 percent were attempted to be fulfilled via HIE and 82 percent were attempted via fax/scan requests. 

The researchers found that the HIE provided an average of almost an hour (58.5 minutes) faster outside information access, and that timely access to outside information related to use of the HIE provided “meaningful” changes in the care provided. For each hour in reduction time, the length of the ED visit was 52.9 minutes shorter, the likelihood of imaging was lower, the likelihood of admission was 2.4 percent lower and the average charges were $1,187 lower.  Moreover, 82 percent of the HIE information provided was reviewed by clinicians, compared to 55 percent of the fax/scan information obtained.

The researchers also noted that the HIE was used less than 20 percent of the time because it’s not fully interoperable. They estimate that had all outside information requests been fulfilled via HIE, the benefits would have increased five-fold.  

“[O]ur finding that HIE was not the dominant method of information return reflects the fact that Care Everywhere did not connect the ED to all necessary sources of information. This underscores the importance of ensuring that clinicians have electronic access to information from all outside provider organizations, regardless of which vendors are involved,” the authors said.

To learn more:

- here's the study abstract