Underusing Regional HIEs Leads to Duplicated Tests, Unnecessary Expenditures

By not using HEALTHeLINK, a regional health information exchange in western New York, area providers ordered 2,763 unnecessary computerized tomography scans over an 18-month period, totaling $1.3 million in unnecessary expenditures, according to a recent study conducted by HEALTHeLINK.

The analysis used clinical data available over the HIE to identify the number of CT scans ordered for the same body part, for the same patient, within six months.

The results showed that of the 2,763 potentially unnecessary CT scans, 90 percent were ordered by physicians who never or infrequently use the HIE. Data on previous scans was often available for the patients in question — about half of the patients had already consented to having their data shared on the HIE, and only 2.3 percent had expressly denied consent. Additionally, more than 95 percent of these potentially redundant scans were performed in a hospital.

"These findings demonstrate the value an HIE provides by reducing the number of unnecessary tests which saves time, money and radiation exposure to our patients," said David Scamurra, MD, a pathologist and HEALTHeLINK chairman, in a news release. "The technology provided by HEALTHeLINK can be used to address these issues on many fronts as western New York's hospitals work to maximize the implementation and use of the HIE in emergency departments, on patient floors and in clinics, and doctors do the same in their private physician offices."

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