Hospitals participating in Health Information Exchanges (HIE) saw reduced 30-day readmission rates in heart attack patients, leading to cost-savings and improvements in patient care, FIU Business researchers found.
The study, published in the February issue of Health Affairs, analyzed data from 160 Florida hospitals and found that HIE participants saw a 1.3 percent greater decline in the likelihood of unplanned, 30-day readmissions for heart attack patients versus non-HIE participating hospitals.
“Achieving widespread exchange of health information is believed to boost treatment efficiency, reduce health care costs and improve patient outcomes,” said Min Chen, associate professor in the Department of Information Systems and Business Analytics.
Nearly 20 percent of all hospital stays for heart attacks result in a readmission within thirty days, and those readmissions total over $1 billion in hospital costs. Reducing hospital readmissions is a priority of the Affordable Care Act reform.
“The findings show that HIE can be leveraged to improve quality measures targeted by the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program,” Chen said.
HIEs function as a centralized data source for hospitals, medical centers, physician practices, and other care facilities that want to access information from several different providers without establishing a connection with each individual facility.
Researchers examined how sharing lab results, medication history, radiology reports, and clinical care records impacts hospital readmissions. They found that sharing radiology reports had the biggest effect, followed by medication histories, on reducing readmissions in HIE-participating hospitals.
The findings show that HIE can be leveraged to improve quality measures targeted by the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program and may hold promise for achieving broader policy goals at the national and state levels.
“A greater policy focus on integrating HIE into quality improvement initiatives may help shift hospitals’ focus to making better use of electronic patient information from outside providers in clinical decisions,” the researchers stated.