Electronic sharing healthcare data key to efficiency and quality

Published September 16, 2022

Electronic sharing of health information is a key to healthcare efficiency and quality

Shortened hospital stays, reduced readmission rates, and cost savings are all benefits of the use of health information exchanges in emergency departments, according to a new study.

  • The Effects of Health Information Exchange Access on Healthcare Quality and Efficiency: An Empirical Investigation
  • Journal: INFORMS: Management Science
  • Author List: 
  • Published Online 29 July 2022
  • Link to Research Article 

Visits to the emergency room are generally not the kind of trips most people look forward to taking. While the care emergency departments provide is critical to patient outcomes, many individuals aren’t looking to hang out in the hospital for longer than necessary. 

New research offers a welcome respite to the patients who find themselves in need of emergency care and the healthcare staff who provide such tending. According to the study, the ability to share patient information between entities through health information exchanges (HIEs) is critical to shortening hospital stays, reducing readmission rates, and providing cost savings. 

Specifically, the study found that when HIEs were used in emergency departments, the average patient length of stay was reduced by almost 6%. With roughly a 22-hour average patient length of stay, the researchers noted that the use of HIEs could reduce that time by around 1.3 hours on average.

Using data modeling, the researchers also determined that access to HIEs could reduce the risk of patient readmission by 2.15%.

In addition to the positive outcomes for patients, this study found that the average cost per patient hospital visit could be reduced by $33 when HIEs are utilized and readmission rates drop. The reduced length of stay and lower readmission rate also highlight that doctor and nurse time as well as hospital equipment could be utilized more efficiently. 

To complete their study, the researchers used real data from a set of hospitals that use HIEs, including more than 80,000 emergency room visits attended by more than 300 physicians over a 19-month period. 

Based on their results, this study recommends that hospitals make use of HIEs to realize benefits to patient care and cost savings.