Healthcare News & Insights

Study: Health information exchange cut unnecessary imaging

A controversial study earlier this year claimed that electronic health record systems could add to healthcare costs by leading doctors to order more tests for patients. Now, a different study has shown that expensive testing may be reduced when hospitals share health information electronically. 

The use of health information exchanges (HIEs) can reduce the number of imaging tests ordered for patients, according to a recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Researchers from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center studied 1,200 patients who made at least two visits to emergency rooms in Memphis from 2007 to 2009. The hospitals in the study shared patient records through an HIE.

The patients that had records available in the HIE were less likely than others to undergo repeat diagnostic imaging tests, including CT scans and MRIs.

Sharing information among providers can help patients avoid those unnecessary — and expensive — duplicate tests. However, the sharing of records in the HIE wasn’t shown to make a significant difference in the overall costs of the patients’ care, researchers said.

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