Health information exchange can save money by reducing admissions from the emergency department

Research Activities, May 2012, No. 381

Health information exchange (HIE) allows clinicians access to patient data from other sites of care or service. This access can be achieved through health information organizations (HIOs) or through direct, point-to-point communication among providers. Such access should reduce medical error, improve health care quality and lower medical costs. Most of the savings attributed to HIE thus far are estimates, with reports of measurable financial benefits being few in number. However, a Vanderbilt University research team has found total annual societal savings resulting from the use of HIE to be approximately $1.95 million, with reduced hospital admission from emergency departments (EDs) accounting for 97.6 percent of the total savings.

The researchers studied the financial impact of access to HIE by ED physicians and its effects on hospital admissions in 12 major hospitals in the Memphis, TN metropolitan area, which linked their clinical administrative data through a single HIO. The data, covering nearly 7 percent of ED visits over a 2-year period, included hospital discharge summary notes, laboratory data, pathology reports, radiographic reports, and other transcribed notes. The total annual societal savings resulting from the use of HIE were approximately $1.95 million. Annual operating costs during the study period of approximately $880,000 reduced the net societal savings to around $1.07 million.

The researchers believe that such savings will be only a fraction of the economic benefit that will be realized as the connected digital health care delivery system evolves. This study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Contract No. 290-04-0006).

See "The financial impact of health information exchange on emergency department use" by Mark E. Frisse, M.D., Kevin B. Johnson, M.D., Hui Nian, Ph.D., and others in the November 2011 online Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Current as of May 2012
Internet Citation: Health information exchange can save money by reducing admissions from the emergency department: Research Activities, May 2012, No. 381. May 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/may12/0512RA15.html