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A new study by university researchers indicates that hospitals which commonly share patients aren’t sharing enough data about those patients, impairing the ability of clinicians to provide appropriate treatment.
“Hospitals that routinely share patients are those that most critically need to engage in electronic health information exchange (HIE) with each other to ensure clinical information is available to inform treatment decisions,” write researchers Julia Adler-Milstein of the University of California at San Francisco and Jordan Everson of Vanderbilt University in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.
But too often they don’t, study results show. The researchers used Medicare’s Physician Shared Patient Patterns data to identify hospital pairs with the highest shared patient volume in each hospital referral region. A survey of 63 hospital “pairs” showed that only 63 percent of hospitals shared data with their “highest shared patient” (HSP) counterpart, while federal data shows that 97 percent of hospitals routinely share electronic data.
Further, the study shows that 23 percent of respondents reported worse information sharing with their “highest shared patient” (HSP) counterpart than with other hospitals, while 17 percent indicated better sharing with their HSP hospital. Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) said there was no difference in how much information they shared with other hospitals.
“Despite increased HIE engagement, our descriptive results indicate that HIE is not developing in a way that facilitates information exchange where it might benefit the most patients,” the researchers write. “New policy efforts, particularly those emerging from the 21st Century Cures Act, need to explicitly pursue strategies that ensure that HSP providers engage in exchange with each other.”