Adding data from a commercial prescription database and a community health information exchange to electronic health records increased the accuracy of medication lists for patients at two hospitals in upstate New York.

The authors of the new study in the American Journal of Managed Care cite previous work that determined patients being admitted to hospitals were at risk for 1.4 adverse drug events, the main cause of such events being errors in preadmission history. They retrospectively studied the records of 858 patients admitted to the two hospitals from September 2010 to April 2011.

Considered separately, the EHR was accurate 80 percent of the time in listing patients' medications; the commercial database captured 45 percent of medications accurately; and the community HIE portal was 37 percent accurate.

When all three were pooled, the accuracy rate leaped to 91 percent. The best two-source accuracy combination came from the EHR and commercial database, with 89 percent accuracy.

"Sharing information within communities has challenges, including identifying resources to support information sharing, uncertainly surrounding return on investment, and privacy and security concerns," the authors conclude. "Moreover, obtaining pharmacy fill information from commercial sources requires resources including payment of fees associated with purchasing access to a commercial database portal and integration of medication data into an existing HIE.

"Despite these challenges, maximizing patient safety is essential both to protect the well-being of patients and to reduce healthcare costs. A study found that the increased adjusted cost of an ADE in a community hospital is $3,420. Although acquiring the technology that facilitates health information exchange around medication safety may require a financial investment at the outset, reduction in ADEs may potentially reduce costs over the long term."

The study is available here.

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