Sharing clinical information among four emergency departments within Minneapolis-based Allina Health is eliminating a significant number of duplicative tests and procedures. That is the conclusion of a study published in the current issue of Applied Clinical Informatics.

Abbott Northwestern, Mercy, United and Unity hospitals all leveraged a health information exchange tool embedded in Allina Health's electronic health record from Epic Systems to exchange clinical information electronically with hospitals and clinics where patients received care.

When providers used the HIE tool, 560 potentially duplicative diagnostic procedures--such as blood work and imaging--were avoided in treating patients who were seen in Allina Health emergency departments at the four hospitals during a six-month period in 2012. Over that time, the HIE tool was used in approximately 1.46 percent of emergency department encounters. 

In the study, retrospective data was extracted from the EHR to evaluate Allina Health's HIE tool called Care Everywhere (CE).

"Per focus group discussions, physicians thought the information received via CE was of value to patient care, particularly laboratory results, imaging, medication lists, discharge summaries and ECG interpretations," states the study. "They feel the greatest impact of HIE is the avoidance of duplicative diagnostic testing and the identification of drug-seeking behavior. Nursing and ancillary staff expressed somewhat less enthusiasm but still felt HIE positively impacted patient care."

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