Use of HIEs reduces ER readmissions and inpatient stays, HealthlinkNY study shows

Chris Nerney
Chris Nerney, Contributing Writer |
Use of HIEs reduces ER readmissions and inpatient stays, HealthlinkNY study shows

Use of a health information exchange (HIE) in more than a dozen counties in New York State is reducing the amount of time patients spend in hospitals and emergency departments (ER), according to a new study.

Conducted by HealthlinkNY, the organization that runs the HIE, the study shows that using the health information exchange lowered the odds that patients would be readmitted to an ER within 30 days while also reducing the number of physicians evaluating them.

“Our results show that HIE access in EDs results in reduction in length of stay and 30-day readmission rate, and reduces the likelihood that more than one doctor would be consulted,” HealthlinkNY said. “We find that the benefits of HIE access are greater with greater breadth of patient information, greater experience of the attending physician with the HIE, and prior interaction between the focal patient and focal attending doctor.”

Operated by HealthlinkNY under a contract from the New York State Department of Health, the HIE covers 13 counties spanning the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Southern Tier of New York.  

Researchers reviewed nearly 86,000 emergency department encounters at four emergency rooms that had access to the HIE, investigating 46,270 patient visits from July 2012 through January 2014.

Specifically, the study found that:

  • HIE use reduced the average length of stay (LOS) in the hospital (including time spent both as an emergency department and inpatient patient) by 7.04 percent.
  • Accessing patient records through the HIE reduced the odds of readmission to any ED (not just the initial facility) within 30 days of discharge by 4.5 percent.
  • Using the HIE reduced the odds of a patient being seen by multiple physicians by 12 percent.

“The results of our study leave no doubt that HIE access improves quality of healthcare and operational efficiency,” study co-author Emre M. Demirezen, PhD, Assistant Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management at SUNY Binghamton’s School of Management, said in a statement. “While common sense tells us that access to the patient’s entire medical history would benefit both the patient and the healthcare provider, my co-authors and I have confirmed that it does by conducting one of the first empirical investigations into the benefits of HIE use at the individual patient level.”