HIE Cuts Redundant Imaging by 25 Percent

The use of a health information exchange to share reports on imaging tests can help reduce the number of times patients undergo the exact same test.

That is the finding of Weill Cornell Medical College researchers. Their study, published in the American Journal of Managed Care, suggests HIE technology that gives healthcare providers immediate, electronic access to a patient's medical history may improve the quality of care while reducing unnecessary costs.

The study evaluated the Rochester Regional Health Information Organization, an HIE that, with patients' permission, collects their health records from multiple providers and insurers in western New York and makes that information available during office and emergency care visits.

Researchers looked at data from insured patients who consented to sharing their imaging results, and assessed how often providers retrieved the patients' electronic health records. After examining the number of repeat imaging tests performed within 90 days of the initial test, the researchers found that providers using the HIE were 25 percent less likely than their peers to perform the same test again. The study was funded by the New York State Department of Health's Healthcare Efficiency and Affordability Law for New Yorkers (HEAL NY).

"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."

The study is available here.

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