Sharing vital patient information can enable independent providers to better inform their decision making at the point of care. Electronic health information exchanges (HIE) give healthcare providers and patients appropriate and secure access to that information, improving the speed, quality, safety, and cost of patient care.
As the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) explains, many benefits exist with information exchange regardless of the means of which is it transferred. However, the value of electronically exchanging is the standardization of data. Once standardized, the data transferred can seamlessly integrate into the recipients’ Electronic Health Record (EHR), further improving patient care.
For example, if laboratory results are received electronically and incorporated into a provider’s EHR, a list of patients with diabetes can be generated. The provider can then determine which of these patients have uncontrolled blood sugar and schedule necessary follow-up appointments.
To better track and securely share patients’ complete medical histories, more and more health care providers are participating in HIEs. HIEs helps facilitate coordinated patient care, reduce duplicative treatments, and avoid costly mistakes. HIEs benefits are significant, including.
- Providing a vehicle for improving quality and safety of patient care by reducing medication and medical errors
- Stimulating consumer education and patients’ involvement in their own health care
- Increasing efficiency by eliminating unnecessary paperwork
- Providing caregivers with clinical decision support tools for more effective care and treatment
- Eliminating redundant or unnecessary testing
- Improving public health reporting and monitoring
- Creating a potential loop for feedback between health-related research and actual practice
- Facilitating efficient deployment of emerging technology and health care services
- Providing the backbone of technical infrastructure for leverage by national and State-level initiatives
- Providing a basic level of interoperability among EHR) maintained by individual physicians and organizations
- Reducing health related costs.
Standardization and consistency are critical when providing and reviewing patient data. Electronic health information systems can help prevent errors by ensuring that everyone involved in a patient’s care—whether in a primary care setting, a specialists’ office or emergency department—has access to the same information.
Each member of the healthcare team tends to have specific, limited interactions with the patient and, depending on the team member’s area of expertise, a somewhat different view of the patient. In effect, the health care team’s view of the patient can become fragmented into disconnected facts and clusters of symptoms. Health care providers need less fragmented views of patients and the ability to communicate with others providing care to that patient in a seamless, efficient manner.
HIEs also encourage efficient care by enabling automatic appointment reminders or follow-up instructions to be sent directly to patients, and prescriptions directly to pharmacies. HIEs reduce the amount of time patients spend filling out paperwork and briefing their providers on their medical history, allowing more time for discussions about health concerns and treatments. And by saving time for patients and providers along the entire continuum of health care delivery, HIEs have the potential to both reduce costs and improve health outcomes.
Elation Health partners with laboratories, practice management and billing systems, and a number of other software vendors to provide an integrated, comprehensive solution for your practice. Elation’s API and HL-7 capabilities power this ecosystem of connected tools can help facilitate coordinated care at your independent practice.