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Sharing Patient Records Could Improve Care in Hospitals

Update Date: Jan 24, 2014 03:05 PM EST

With technology advancing significantly over the past few decades, hospitals and doctor offices have been transitioning from paper to digital. According to a new study, this transition has the potential to be extremely beneficial for patient care. The researchers reported that hospitals that share their online systems with one another could improve emergency patient care and cut medical costs.

For this study, the researchers examined data from the California and Florida State Emergency Department Databases between 2007 and 2010. They also looked at information from the Health Information Management Systems Society annual survey on hospital HIE participation and affiliation. HIE, which stands for health information exchange, is a program that allows hospitals to securely share patient records with one another.

The researchers focused on patients who received scans from two different emergency departments within a 30-day period. The researchers with senior author and U-M Medical School emergency physician Keith Kocher, M.D., discovered that hospitals that took part in HIE were less likely to conduct repeat CT scans, chest X-rays and ultrasound scans. More specifically, patients that went to HIE hospitals were 59 percent less likely to get a repeat CT scan, 44 percent less likely to undergo another ultrasound and 67 percent less likely to get another chest x-ray.

"The emergency department is an important test case for whether we would see any impact from HIEs on rates of repeat imaging," said study researcher Eric Lammers, Ph.D., "The fact that we find that there is a decrease is in and of itself significant."

HIEs are a growing trend that is backed by the government, which offers states grants if they agree to create HIEs. The program also offers money to medical providers if they agree to participate.

"There has been a lot of hope, and some hype, that these systems will enable more efficiency in how care is provided across unaffiliated providers," said Lammers according to Medical Xpress.

The findings were published in Medical Care.

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