News Feature | August 13, 2015

HIEs Can Reduce Redundant Testing

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

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Several studies have showed HIEs are a great tool to reduce unnecessary testing. Now a HEALTHeLINK report indicates and impact in the emergency department as well.

Over a period of six weeks, researchers from the Brookings Institution examined 2,000 ED visits in three western New York hospitals which are part of the HEALTHeLINK HIE system. According to their findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, “Access to additional clinical data through the HIE will significantly reduce the number of laboratory tests and radiology examinations performed in the ED settings and thus support the ongoing HIE efforts.”

“This study highlights just one component of the value of interoperability and doctors’ access to their patients’ data that HEALTHeLINK and health information technology can provide in improving the quality and efficiency of patient care and enhancing patient safety,” said Dan Porreca, executive director, HEALTHeLINK in a statement. “While this study focused on only three emergency department settings, we are hearing from other physicians and medical staff from hospitals and health care organizations throughout Western New York about the benefits of utilizing HEALTHeLINK.”

iHealth Beat reports the study divided patients into two groups; one which comprised of 737 patients had physicians who used HEALTHeLINK’s data to find relevant clinical information, while the other group of 1,275 patients were treated by physicians who did not use the HIE data.

Those using HIE data at the first hospital ED led to a 52 percent reduction in lab tests and a 36 percent reduction in radiology exams. Results at the second ED showed a 25 percent decrease in lab tests and 26 percent decrease in radiology exams. A third ED saw a 47 percent reduction in radiology exams.

“While direct and indirect costs of these tests can vary by hospital and region, physicians ordering fewer tests because recent pertinent clinical information is available through HEALTHeLINK directly leads to overall costs savings for our local health care community,” said Porreca. “As part of the Statewide Health Information Network of New York (SHIN-NY), the value we provide gets multiplied statewide by other HIE organizations providing similar services within their respective regions. Add to that the ability, via the SHIN-NY, to connect providers across the state and the value grows even further.”

“With improved usability through continued coordination with hospital IT resources, we expect to see a steady increase toward fully realizing the benefit HEALTHeLINK provides in the EDs and beyond to our local health care community,” concluded David Scamurra, MD, chair, HEALTHeLINK board of directors.