Jeff Rowe, Editor, Future Care

Jeff Rowe is the editor of Future Care and a veteran healthcare journalist and blogger who has reported extensively on initiatives to improve the healthcare system at the local, regional and national level.

Study: providers using New York HIE reduce readmissions and patient visits

March 10, 2017 AT 2:08 PM

Health information exchanges (HIE) are working, at least in New York, anyway.

In a recent study released by HealthlinkNY, which operates the HIE connecting providers and patients in more than a dozen counties across the Hudson Valley and Southern Tier of New York, a team of researchers from SUNY Binghamton, the University of South Carolina and Texas A & M examined 86,000 encounters at hospital EDs with access to patient records through the HealthlinkNY found that use of the exchange reduced the patient's length of stay both in the ED and inpatient stay while also lowering the likelihood that patients would be readmitted to an ER within 30 days and reducing the number of physicians needed to examine them.

"The results of our study leave no doubt that HIE access improves quality of healthcare and operational efficiency," said study co-author Emre Demirezen, assistant professor of operations and supply chain management at SUNY Binghamton's School of Management.

"While common sense tells us that access to the patient's entire medical history would benefit both the patient and the healthcare provider, my co-authors and I have confirmed that it does by conducting one of the first empirical investigations into the benefits of HIE use at the individual patient level."

New York State exchange infrastructure comprises a public network of regional HIEs, stitched together through SHIN-NY, the Statewide Health Information Network of New York, enabling providers to exchange patient data statewide.

The study examined ED encounters at four different emergency rooms over a period of 19 months from 2012 to 2014. All four had the ability to access the HealthlinkNY HIE.

"We chose to examine emergency room visits because ER clinicians deal with a diversity of clinical conditions in a very high-pressure environment, and they need to gather as much information about a patient as quickly as possible," said Demirezen.

He noted that physicians who use the HIE regularly, and are therefore more comfortable in using it, exhibited better outcomes than novice users. 

"Providers should actively promote and support clinician use of the HIE and invest time and effort into training them on its use," he said.