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As hospitals and doctors’ offices across the country race to join online systems that let them share medical information securely, a new study suggests that these systems may already be helping cut unnecessary care.
Fewer emergency patients got repeated medical scans when they went to a hospital that takes part in a health information exchange, or HIE, according to new findings by University of Michigan researchers published online in the journal Medical Care.
And although the study focuses specifically on scans done on patients who went to two different emergency departments in a 30-day period, the authors say the findings serve as a good test case for the effectiveness of HIEs. The study is one of the first to show with hard data that HIEs may deliver the increased efficiency they promise…
The findings show that the use of repeat CT scans, chest X-rays and ultrasound scans was significantly lower when patients had both their emergency visits at two unaffiliated hospitals that took part in an HIE. The data come from two large states that were among the early adopters of HIEs: California and Florida.
Keith Kocher, an assistant professor of emergency medicine, worked with Eric Lammers, Ph.D., who performed the analysis for his doctoral work at the U-M School of Public Health…
“The emergency department is an important test case for whether we would see any impact from HIEs on rates of repeat imaging,” says Lammers. “The fact that we find that there is a decrease is in and of itself significant.”
The federal government has incentivized participation in HIEs, offering states grants to form them, and medical providers extra money if they sign on. In Michigan, several HIEs have emerged, and the two largest just announced plans to merge. HIEs are a key extension of the electronic health records that hospitals and practices are also being incentivized to adopt…
…Other types of patient records, such as recent lab test results, can also make a major difference in what an emergency doctor chooses to do when presented with an emergency patient.
My goodness. One more reason for Republicans and Blue Dog Dems to bad-mouth the Affordable Care Act. Here we are with health care getting less expensive – guaranteed to piss off the medical-industrial complex. And patients are experiencing fewer radiative tests like CT scans, fewer lab tests.
I’m reminded of the parallel with student loans just having been revised. By cutting out the banks serving as middle-man and adding-in an unnecessary charge the cost of those loans is diminishing. Single-payer systems like those utilized in fiscally-sane countries would cut insurance companies out of the base healthcare system of the United States. Reducing costs to consumers.
Anyone crying over the loss of profits to insurance companies?
What will happen next? Healthier citizens starting to think about who they elect to public office. That may be asking for too much, too soon.