Health information exchanges boost physician referrals 46%: study

Health information exchanges have increased physician referrals by 46 percent, but physicians who haven't joined could face losing patients to providers who participate.

A study from the New York-based University at Buffalo School of Management analyzed datasets from 22,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Western New York from 2009 to 2012 to examine the impact of health information exchanges on patient referral. 

Researchers found that physicians who joined an exchange experienced a 44 percent to 46 percent increase in the rate of referrals to and from other members.

"To ensure referral service quality, and consequently, be able to sustain and increase their business volume, providers should become more aware of the benefits of joining an exchange — and the possible loss of patients they face if they don’t join," Ram Ramesh, PhD, co-author of the study and professor of management science and system at University at Buffalo said.

Referrals make up more than a third of all patients referred to specialists each year.

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