The demand for electronic health information exchange (HIE) among care venues and varying technology platforms is growing. With nationwide efforts to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of health care delivery, HIE helps facilitate coordinated patient care, reduce duplicative treatments, and avoid costly mistakes. Furthermore, HIE can add another layer of valuable services, such as clinical event notifications, improved referral coordination, and data acquisition.
New payment approaches with a high focus on care coordination and looming federal penalties around information blocking are all driving the interest and increasing demand for health information exchanges nationwide. Advancements in interoperability and HIEs continue to appeal; however, there remain challenges ahead of total adoption. With countless years of experience, Lightbeam’s HIE team has helped those challenged by the transition to complete interoperability. The benefits of how HIE improves patient-centered care delivery outweighs any of those challenges. Here are six ways health information exchange improves healthcare:
1. Increased Patient Safety
Rich data records traveling with the patient across various encounters in their care continuum can empower healthcare staff to make more informed decisions by providing them with accurate data in real-time. Data transparency translates to a better, safer, and more efficient experience for both the patient and the care provider.
2. Automated Workflows
The hope with continuous technological advancement is that faxing, calling, and manually tracking down patient information will be a thing of the past. The truth is in many organizations, countless hours are still spent in care settings performing these functions. Having information readily available for exchange is critical in ensuring providers and their care teams are not working heavily to track information down. An HIE allows providers to develop non-disruptive workflows with the right information, at the right place, at the right time.
3. Increased Efficiency
There are countless use cases we have seen where the information available in the HIE has eliminated duplicate procedures, avoided repetitive tests, and increased the patient experience significantly. The level of efficiency that HIE can bring not only improves the provider and recipients of healthcare services but avoids unnecessary utilization.
4. Delivery to National Networks
Ensuring that a health information exchange can participate in efforts such as CommonWell, CareQuality, eHealth Exchange, and more are essential to ensure these record locator services can accommodate a broader effort. Regional and focused HIEs with robust Master Patient Indexes are a necessary piece to the greater nationwide interoperability puzzle as well.
5. Improved Care Coordination
With real-time information at their fingertips, patients and their care teams can make better-informed decisions for their care plans. The data also gives family members, primary caregivers, and guardians additional knowledge as they oversee their loved ones’ treatment. Patients should feel empowered and know their data is readily available in an accessible format, broken out of the data silos that still exist.
6. Value-Added Services
HIEs that have seen success are more than a record locator service; they have expanded into data acquisition, data aggregation, and layered on value-added services. At Lightbeam, the HIE team is introducing Clinical Event Notifications based on the data they acquire from clients. Exploring the inclusion of claims information and enhancing existing referral workflows are just a few ways to layer value into interoperability further.
When analyzing how to advance an organization in interoperability, or how the quality of care and care coordination can be improved, the first step is ensuring that the technology platform aligns. By sharing data more effectively, interoperable systems can help significantly improve health outcomes, lower the cost of health care delivery, and enhance the patient experience. Health information exchanges are past checking the box on data exchange; now, they are in the space of ensuring data is usable and creates value for both patients and care providers.
Carrie Roth is the Manager of HIE Implementations at Lightbeam.