Healthcare News & Insights

Survey: Doctors see benefits and challenges of HIEs

Health information exchanges (HIEs) are one way health IT can help improve care and reduce healthcare costs. However, there are some significant barriers to HIE participation. 

Health information exchanges allow doctors to share relevant information about patients and improve their overall care. And the majority of doctors are confident that HIEs will have a positive impact on health care, according to a recent survey from Doctors Helping Doctors Transform Health Care.

Among the 527 doctors surveyed, the top benefits expected from HIEs were:

  • Improvements in quality of care (cited by 80% of doctors)
  • Better ability for doctors to coordinate care (80%)
  • The ability to meet the demands of new models, such as accountable care (78%)
  • Easier reporting to third-party agencies (72%)
  • Opportunities to qualify for incentive programs (72%)
  • Greater efficiency in practice settings (69%), and
  • Lower health care costs (57%).

Despite the benefits of HIEs, survey respondents expressed several concerns, as well. When asked about the obstacles keeping them from participating in exchanges, doctors replies:

  • Lack of interoperability between various EHR systems (cited as a major barrier by 71% of respondents)
  • Lack of infrastructure to support an HIE (71%), and
  • The costs of setting up and maintaining interfaces and exchanges (68%).

Minor barriers cited included privacy and security concerns, worries about malpractice liability if information isn’t acted on, and concerns about not being able to trust data in the exchange.

Also, the impact of an HIE depends a lot on the types of information the exchange allows to be shared. When participating in an information exchange, doctors said the most important pieces of information to receive during transitions of care are:

  • Medication lists
  • Relevant lab and imaging test results
  • Discharge summaries
  • Reasons for referral, and
  • Treatment summaries and changes recommended by a consulting physician

Survey respondents also said it was important to get that information in a timely manner, with 80% saying a reasonable time frame would be either “immediately” or “within 24 hours,” when a patient is being treated for an urgent problem. With non-urgent issues, 70% said they’d want information within three business days.

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