Study Questions Impact of Electronic Medical Records
Health information exchange (HIE), which is the transfer of electronic information such as laboratory results, clinical summaries, and medication lists, is believed to boost efficiency, reduce healthcare costs, and improve outcomes for patients. Stimulated by federal financial incentives, about two-thirds of hospitals and almost half of physician practices are now engaged in some type of HIE with outside organizations. To determine how HIE has affected such healthcare measures as cost, service use, and quality, we identified 27 scientific studies, extracted selected characteristics from each, and meta-analyzed these characteristics for trends. Overall, 57% of published analyses reported some benefit from HIE. However, articles employing study designs having strong internal validity, such as randomized controlled trials or quasi-experiments, were significantly less likely than others to associate HIE with benefits.