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Regenstrief Begins Two-Year Study of Emergency Department HIE Use

Regenstrief researchers will examine whether HIE use in emergency departments over time reduces the likelihood of hospitalization.

HIE Use

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- The Regenstrief Institute is launching a multi-year study into the effect of health information exchange (HIE) use on patient outcomes in emergency departments.  

Scientists at the institute will use a two-year grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to determine whether patients are less likely to be hospitalized if emergency department providers have access to complete patient EHRs through an HIE.

Researchers in the study will measure use of health data exchange over time across several institutions to gather evidence of the value and advantages of HIE use in emergency care delivery.

“Findings from our new study could serve as a report card on potential benefits of HIE and as a template for HIEs as they mature,” said Regenstrief Institute Investigator Brian E. Dixon, PhD.

Regenstrief researchers are specifically interested in long-term HIE use and its effects on patient care in settings where care is urgent and acute, and patient data is not available to providers before the encounter. Additionally, researchers will investigate which healthcare providers in emergency departments participate in HIE use and why these providers opt to do so.

Investigators will review HIE usage logs from the Indiana Network for Patient Care to observe how often information from HIEs are accessed, what kinds of patients data is accessed for, and what kinds of healthcare providers access this information.

Researchers will also investigate the conditions in which HIE use is most effective, and what sections of patient EHRs—including lab results, imaging studies, medication lists, and medical histories—are most frequently accessed. Finally, researchers will review the outcome of each patient encounter to see whether a patient was ultimately admitted to the hospital.

“In today’s world, surrounded by technology and the promise of self-driving cars, it is hard to believe that clinical data is still hard to come by,” said Regenstrief Institute investigator J.T. Finnell, MD. “It is a common struggle to gather and mine the data to make informed decisions regarding patient care. Having access to the entire patient record only makes sense, and it’s aligned with existing patient expectations.”

Finnell serves as a co-investigator on the project along with Joshua Vest, PhD of the Fairbanks School of Public Health and Saurabh Rahurkar, DrPH of Regenstrief. The Indiana Network for Patient Care was developed by the Regenstrief Center for Biomedical Informatics and has since been taken over by the Indiana Health Information Exchange.

“There is a need to more accurately quantify the importance of delivering a comprehensive view of the patient,” said Regenstrief Center for Biomedical Informatics Director Shaun Grannis, MD, MS. “The INPC’s premier capabilities for standardizing disparate health data provide a real-world laboratory to study the clinical improvements realized by providing essential integrated clinical data at the point of care.”

The Regenstrief Institute’s Center for Biomedical Informatics also recently began work on developing an automated patient EHR matching solution using a $1.7 million grant from AHRQ.

Over the course of the five-year project, researchers will develop and test evidence-based solutions to improve patient matching accuracy and reduce patient safety threats caused by patient EHR misidentification.

“Matching the correct individual to his or her health data is critical to their medical care,” said Grannis. “Statistics show that up to one in five patient records are not accurately matched even within the same health care system. As many as half of patient records are mismatched when data is transferred between health care systems.”

Regenstrief will make all research and patient matching software developed throughout the project open-source and available to the public. 

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