HIEs aim to curb ED overuse

From airing funny advertisements to cutting reimbursement dollars, the healthcare industry is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to curb unnecessary emergency room visits. In Washington state, hospitals are turning to solve the problem.

This summer, hospitals in the state will share information about so-called "frequent flyers" with each other via health information exchanges, mynorthwest.com reports. The Washington State Health Care Authority--which is working with the Washington State Hospital Association and other physicians on the effort--estimates that such sharing will result in $31 million in savings. The plan is expected to be fully implemented by July 1.

"Good communication between hospitals, doctors, patients and Medicaid is needed to make this new plan succeed," Jeff Thompson, chief medical officer of the WSHCA said in a statement. "We have many of these tools available, but we need to make sure Emergency Department doctors have the support they need to apply them consistently across the state."

HIE use already has been shown to save money for hospital emergency departments. Researchers at Vanderbilt University determined in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association last fall that that the sharing of electronic data among 12 Memphis-area EDs helped to reduce hospital admissions and redundant imaging tests. The EDs saved a total of $1.9 million over a 13-month period.

To learn more:
- read the mynorthwest.com article
- here's the Washington State Health Care Authority announcement