Benefits of Health Information Exchanges for Doctors and Patients

Armen Hareyan's picture
Doctors' benefits from health information exchanges

GRAChIE, Georgia's Regional Academic Community Health Information Exchange joined Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC) as a member. Not everyone understands health information exchanges (HIEs) and we at eMaxHealth want to share with our readers what they are and what benefits they have for the patients and providers.

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Health information exchanges help coordinate patient care and improve health care delivery by sharing lessons learned and best practices in the industry.

"People familiar with HIEs often think of us in terms of data sharing and data transactions. But if you’re working in this industry, you know it’s so much more. We’re called on to stay one step ahead of where the health IT field is heading,' said Tara Cramer, executive director for GRAChIE, in the release, announcing GRAChIE's membership to (SHIEC).

In other words, HIEs elevate each other and foster widespread data sharing across the United States, thus improving patient care.

We asked long term eMaxHealth reporter Kathleen Blanchard who is more familiar with HIEs and the health insurance industry in general to share with eMaxHealth readers about the benefits of health insurance exchanges for the public. Here is what Blanchard wrote.

Benefits of HIEs

HIEs have many benefits, not only for health care consumers, but for keeping overall costs of heatlh care in check. Sharing medical information allows clinicians across the spectrum of patient care to access crucial medical information that can prevent costly mistakes and duplication of testing.

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Another benefit is that health information exchanges help patients take charge of their own well-being. They can also contribute greatly to tracking public health concerns. HIEs also mean a lot less paperwork for clinicians, but some studies dispute that less time is spent on documentation.

There are also challenges to consider including cost of systems and training. Integrating patient data can also be a barrier - for instance, when an emergency room doesnt have access to the same HIE as a provider office.

There has also been some debate about health care privacy with the use of electronic medical records.

Physicians feel challenged by the systems. An article published in September, 2017 by AMA Wire - https://wire.ama-assn.org/practice-management/hot-button-topic-how-can-we-make-ehrs-better-more-usable - discussed the administrative challenges felt by doctors who perceive it interferes with job satisfaction and patient relationships because of time spent submitting information.

As a nurse, my own patients have shared stories of visiting their doctor who "just looks at the computer" during an office visit

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found physicians spend half of their work day "tethered" to electronic health systems as well as a portion of their off time in the evening.

HIEs can certainly be helpful and are encouraged, but more needs to be done to make them truly user friendly and well integrated for information sharing. Switching from one system to another needs to become seamless so as not to interfere with patient care as upgrades occur.

Please leave a comment about your personal experience with HIEs whether you're a patient or a provider.

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