HIE Access Reduced 30-Day Hospital Readmissions

Accessing patient information in a health information exchange system during the 30 days after hospital discharge reduced the odds of readmission, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Despite potential benefits of health information exchange (HIE), reports on the effectiveness of these systems for reducing hospital admissions and readmissions have been mixed. However, a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association found that accessing patient information in a HIE system during the 30 days after hospital discharge reduced the odds of readmission.

Readmission rates in the US are estimated to range from 18% to 25% of discharges, and cost about $17 billion a year. Joshua R. Vest, assistant professor of healthcare policy and research in the Division of Health Policy and Economics at Weill Cornell Medical College, and colleagues studied 38 healthcare organizations in an 11-county region of western New York State using data from the Rochester Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO).

They fond that for patients who data were accessed in the HIE, 5.1% were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days compared to the 10.1% of patients with the same condition who were readmitted whose data were not accessed. The percentage of patients with an emergency department visit after discharge was similar across groups.

“These findings indicate that provider usage of community-wide, longitudinal patient records via an HIE system may be an avenue to reduce hospital readmissions and save costs,” the authors wrote.

The study included 6807 discharged patients and the investigators estimated that the total financial savings associated with using the HIE system was $605,472 annually. Using the HIE system was associated with an estimated 48 potentially avoided readmissions per year.

“Given the importance of hospital readmissions for patients, providers, and policy makers, this represents a potentially valuable application of HIE,” the authors concluded.

In a paper published in Health Information Technology Special Issue of The American Journal of Managed Care, the same authors studied the affect of HIE on repeat medical imaging. They used the same RHIO system and found that when the system was accessed within the 90 days following an initial imaging procedure, only 5% of imaging was repeated compared to 8% without HIE access. The HIE system reduced the adjusted odds of a repeat image by 25%.

The American Journal of Managed Care is currently seeking original research for the 2015 issue on Health Information Technology. Click here for details.