Healthcare News & Insights

Can HIEs reduce unnecessary spending, preventable admissions?

How much have preventable admissions cost your organization? And is there any way to cut down on unnecessary spending? 

throwing money awaySince the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the industry has pushed for providers to reduce wasteful spending for costly preventable visits. And though progress has been made, data analytics are showing a lot more work needs to be done.

Case in point: Preventable hospital visits and events cost one state $2 billion.

But better care coordination may be one way hospital leaders can prevent these kind of expenses from piling up at their facilities.

$2 billion in preventable visits

As Healthcare IT News reports, the Minnesota Department for Public Health recently decided to conduct a state-wide analysis of its hospital and emergency department (ED) admissions.

The state used a 3M data analytics platform to assess the state’s payor claims database. Officials found that in 2012 there were about 1.3 million inpatient hospital visits, which could have been prevented by better medication management, more timely use of primary care, better health literacy or improved care coordination.

Most of the preventable visits were to the emergency room (ER), officials found, costing the state and facilities about $1.3 billion.

The most common reason for the ER visits reported were:

  • upper respiratory infections
  • abdominal pain, and
  • musculoskeletal/connective tissue conditions.

Ironically, despite the high cost of the preventable visits, Minnesota’s inpatient per capita costs are below the national average. This likely means that preventable visits continue to be a serious and costly issue around the country.

Officials have noted that there’s obviously room for improvement, and have asked facilities to take a holistic approach to reducing preventable admission, as there are multiple factors which generate wasteful care spending.

Cutting waste with HIEs

One way, hospitals can reduce ED spending is by leveraging health information exchanges (HIEs), according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Brookings Institute, a nonprofit think-tank, with the help of HEALTHeLink, a New York-based HIE. Researchers evaluated more than 2,000 ED visits in three medical facilities, splitting patients into two groups.

One group had physicians and scribes who used HIE data to find relevant patient information, particularly related to laboratory tests and radiology exams, while the other group was treated by physicians who did not use an HIE.

In all three facilities, using HIE data resulted in fewer lab tests and radiology exams, saving time and resources.

Another interesting discovery from the study was the benefits of using scribes in these settings. Many physicians find their electronic health record (EHR) systems are inefficient and difficult to use in time-sensitive situations.

By using scribes to find patient information from the HIE, physicians can obtain valuable information without sacrificing their time and attention to search an EHR.

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