The Many Benefits of Having a Health Information Exchange Strategy
What are the benefits of health information exchange strategies? See why you need to create goals and measure progress to help lead you to success.
The Benefits of a Health Information Exchange Strategy
Health information exchange is revolutionary. It’s totally changing the way we deal with medical records and information today.
For centuries, records have been handwritten. This has made it harder to share information, and update it easily across the board. And it’s pretty laborious reading through all that data, too.
Oh, and let’s not get into the whole ‘doctors’ handwriting‘ thing…
With so many hurdles to providing the best healthcare tied up in paperwork, it can almost seem like we’re setting ourselves up to fail.
Until the advent of Health Information Exchange (HIE), that is. This digitalized system helps both patients and professionals. It gives them a way to electronically input and share patient data with others in the health sector.
What are the benefits of health information exchange? Keep reading to find out.
Fewer Errors Mean Better Patient Safety
This one’s kind of a given, but it’s also incredibly important. While the ideal is for a patient to see healthcare professionals who are all under one roof, the reality is different.
Full Medical History
For various reasons, patients will often see a number of different healthcare providers. Without a comprehensive breakdown of the patient’s previous medical history – from their childhood tonsilitis to their adult gout – providers are immediately at a disadvantage.
Providers can treat patients effectively when they know all the facts. They should know what’s worked in the past, what a patient is allergic to, or whether they’ve got an unnaturally alarming phobia of needles, for example.
Easy to Access
One of the benefits of health information exchange is that the information is digitalized, and easy to access.
Just a few clicks into a patient’s record will show a wealth of information that can help determine how to move forward medically.
Easy to Read
A kid has awful handwriting and a parent might smilingly say they’re probably going to be a doctor.
The problem is, it’s no laughing matter. Healthcare providers are under intense pressure. Their illegible scrawl is often born of necessity and time constraints.
Misread health conditions and medications have, however, have cost some patients their lives.
As the information is input directly into an HIE-friendly software program, it eliminates this sad factor. In our books, that’s a definite benefit of health information exchange.
Less Paperwork, More Efficiency
With the mounds of paperwork involved in the health profession, the time doctors can spend face-to-face with their patients is dramatically reduced. In fact, because that pile of paper is stacking up, doctors spend half their working hours on it. And they hate it.
A medical professional is just that – a trained professional, a specialist in their field.
They’re desperate to focus on what they’re good at – helping patients get better. Instead, these specialists waste precious time filling out reams of paperwork. Sometimes they even end up duplicating buried information.
One of the benefits of health information exchange is the ease of reading. Providers can easily access and read up on their patients’ history before an appointment or visit.
There’s no need to leaf through a cumbersome file, hoping beyond hope they’re not missing something scrawled in the notes. Rather, they can easily scroll through the patient data. They can also search keywords and find medication lists.
After a consultation, they can add simple and concise notes updating the patient’s record. It will save time, and leave a nice clear outline of events for the next provider’s perusal.
Speeds Up Data Transfer
For years, health providers didn’t have access to their patients’ medical history. Understandably, this caused a lot of delays and treatment errors.
The advent of HIEs, however, makes interoperability between medical professionals and providers easier.
Healthcare providers can easily and quickly share patient information with the patient and others in the field.
This means patients can go into a consultation armed with the information they need to get the best quality treatment possible. And during the treatment, this information can be shared with other providers – a family doctor, for example.
When everyone has access to the same information, health providers can complement, rather than compete, with each other to give patients the treatment they need.
No More Needless Testing
Another of the many benefits of health information exchange is saying goodbye to needless medical testing.
Unnecessary medical tests cost the nation in excess of $200 billion a year, but they can also be harmful to the patient. As a result of these tests, an estimated 30,000 deaths are caused each year due to human error and generated injuries.
Many health professionals are in the habit of ordering blood tests on patients, but this likely started due to a lack of, or garbled, information in the paperwork.
Also, unnecessary blood and urine tests can also give incorrect results and delay surgery. That’s money wasted on the test, and leaves surgeons sat twiddling their thumbs.
Rather than put patients through this painful, unnecessary – and at times harmful – testing, HIE can help providers to see what testing is actually needed.
For example, a family doctor may not know all the ins and outs of the pre-operative screening necessary for a diverticulitis colon resection. But the surgeon in question will, and with access to medical records he can advise accordingly.
Gets Patients Involved
Patient information can change all the time. A patient might take up smoking, or they might quit. They may have gained a lot of weight due to an injury, or they may have changed their diet and exercise program and lost 150lbs.
Any information a patient can add to their records will help providers to understand them better before the appointment. This leads to less time wasted, and more effective healthcare.
When patients know they can speed up their treatment and recovery, they’ll be motivated to fill in and update their information.
The Takeaway on the Benefits of Health Information Exchange Strategy
There’s so much to gain from using HIE in the medical profession.
From minimal errors to more efficiency, and an interactive health service, the benefits of health information exchange can be seen throughout the service.
The benefits ring through all the way from the patient, to the professionals, to public health officials.
Health information exchange is a vital part of quality health care – both as computer software and as the exchange of information between providers.
But with HIE can come challenges. Check out this article on 5 challenges HIE consultants help organizations navigate.