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Community HIEs outperform enterprise exchanges in savings and healthcare utilization, study finds

New research found that community HIEs produce better results when it comes to reducing both costs and the use of unnecessary services.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

A fresh look at health information exchanges by researchers at Indiana University found evidence that HIEs reduce both the cost of healthcare and its utilization. The new findings contrasts with research published five years ago by the same team.

Researchers found community health information exchanges were more likely to produce benefits than proprietary or enterprise health information exchanges. Community health information exchanges are those in which any provider in a community can share information about any patient. Proprietary health information exchanges are those that limit access to, for example, just one hospital and certain healthcare providers.

Benefits include fewer duplicated procedures and reduced use of imaging services, in addition to the cost and safety improvements.

When the first review was published in 2015 -- by the same research team -- only weak evidence was reported linking health information exchanges to reduced costs, use of health services or quality of care.

Several reasons might explain why there is a difference when it comes to the evidence between the two reviews, the authors said. One might be that the more current studies were examining more mature health information exchanges that have evolved to be more effective than earlier-generation systems.

The new findings show progress in reaching national goals for better health, lower costs and improved population health, the authors said.

Driving down utilization is an ongoing goal inspiring myriad approaches to tackling the issue, while technology has long been used a means of finding savings in an industry beset by high costs.

Twitter: @JELagasse
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