News Feature | February 1, 2016

HIE Reduces Redundancy, Cuts Costs

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

HIE Fees Through OIG

Use of a health information exchange can limit the number of redundant medical imaging and tests, often leading to savings for providers.

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

“Providers who have access to patient records through an electronic health information exchange order fewer repeat X-rays, ultrasounds and other imaging tests,” wrote researchers in a study published by the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

The study used the records of more than 12,000 patients in a 13-county region in western New York via the Rochester Regional Health Information Organization. According to Fierce Health IT, these patients had imaging done then saw a physician within 90 days.

iHealth Beat explains HIE use was associated with annual savings of $32,460 in avoided repeat imaging, which equated to about $2.57 in savings per patient. While lower-cost procedures, such as X-rays, were least likely to be repeated, the largest savings actually came from higher-cost imaging services.

“Given the large investment in health information technology in this country — $30 billion as part of the federal government's meaningful use program alone — it's important to show that this technology is leading to actual savings,” said lead investigator Dr. Hye-Young Jung, an assistant professor of healthcare policy and research at Weill Cornell Medicine in an announcement. “Identifying real cost savings like these shows payers and policymakers that investing in this technology is worthwhile.”

“Although these estimated savings are moderate, we covered broad populations and used data from the exchange that indicated whether a provider actually accessed a patient's health information,” Dr. Unruh said. “Looking ahead, we'd like to look at larger populations — dually eligible Medicare and Medicaid users, for example — and tests outside of radiology, to learn more about how these systems are working.”