By Katie Wike, contributing writer
According to a recent study, using an HIE can reduce the number of redundant imaging tests patients undergo.
“Medical imaging, which is expensive, is frequently repeated for the same patient within a relatively short period of time due to lack of access to previous images,” explain the authors of a recently published article in the American Journal of Managed Care. This led researchers to examine if the use of HIEs affected the imaging tests performed.
“Previous studies estimate that between 9 percent and 40 percent of all medical images are repeated, regardless of the reason for the repeat imaging,” wrote the study’s authors. “Knowing the frequency and timing of repeat imaging could inform the design of interventions to reduce repeat imaging and inform expectations of their effects.”
According to Health Data Management, the researchers found the use of health information exchanges does, in fact, reduce the number of redundant imaging tests performed on a patient. Researchers studied the Rochester Regional Health Information Organization, which is an HIE that collects patients’ health records from multiple providers and insurers in western New York.
They discovered that over a 90-day period, redundant tests were cut by 25 percent. This means that providers using the HIE were less likely to perform the same test as their peers, resulting from the fact that HIE allows providers electronic access to their patients’ clinical information, including images, even if they were collected by providers in other healthcare organizations.
“Medical imaging has been an important diagnostic tool for decades, but unnecessary or repeat exams are costly and could potentially delay access for patients who truly need the tests,” said Joshua Vest, assistant professor of healthcare policy and research at Weill Cornell and the lead author of the study. “Our research shows that timely sharing of patients' medical records may result in fewer repeated imaging tests. Instant access to this information gives providers a better, more complete picture of a patient's health status.”