HIE saves more than $1 million in patient charges for emergency care

Provider access to data via a health information exchange improved emergency care quality and saved more than $1 million in patient charges--nearly $2,000 per patient--according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Emergency Physicians in Seattle.

Over a 12-month period beginning in Feb. 2012, an HIE for emergency patients resulted in savings from avoiding these types of services, for a sample of 532 patients out of 325,740 patient encounters:

  • Laboratory/microbiology: (187 patients) $2,073
  • Radiology: (298 patients) $476,840
  • Consultations: (61 patients) $6,461
  • Hospital admissions: (56 patients) $551,282.

Total savings for patients in the sample was $1,035,654--or $1,947 per patient.

"Nearly 90 percent of participants [89 percent] said that quality of patient care was improved, and 82 percent of participants said that valuable time was saved, reporting a mean time savings of 105 minutes per patient," study author Christine Carr, M.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina, said in an announcement.

This comes as good news amid reports this summer that though the number of health information exchanges is growing, most still struggle to become self-sustaining. A study published in Health Affairs found 119 operational exchange efforts nationwide--a 61 percent increase from 2010. It also found that 30 percent of U.S. hospitals and 10 percent of doctors' offices are involved in an HIE.

What's more, a Colorado study of ambulatory practices found that while the number of tests ordered for patients by physicians dropped with HIE adoption, little cost savings resulted. The HIE's economic benefit could come through "downstream outcomes of better informed, higher quality care," the authors wrote.

In a May webinar on the Beacon Community experience, former National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari said that the Beacon pilots have shown that information exchange meets real business needs and brings value to the industry.

To learn more:
- read the announcement

Related Articles:
HIEs struggle to develop sustainable business models
Data from routine medical visits can improve care for all
Beacon program success highlights HIE value
Little savings on tests found through HIE

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