No matter where patients go for medical care, or how many healthcare providers they need to see, their medical records should go with them. Right now, health data is siloed in a patchwork of networks that are regional or contained within health systems. When patients and providers can’t access critical health information easily, it can lead to ineffciencies like redundant procedures, or even patient injuries and death.
In an emergency, doctors and nurses need to know a patient’s critical health details, including serious allergies and underlying conditions to provide life-saving care. If that patient is having trouble communicating, unconscious, or speaks another language, healthcare providers won’t have enough information to provide the best care. This fractured information system also causes unnecessary readmissions and redundant procedures, increasing healthcare costs.
The good news: we can break down barriers to sharing essential health information, and improve care for California patients––by creating a statewide health information exchange (HIE) network.
Privacy and protection of patient records is a top priority in establishing a single statewide HIE network. An HIE network in California will only allow medical professionals to access your personal health records in compliance with Health Information Portability and Affordability Act (HIPAA) privacy and security
regulations––stringent federal technical, administrative, and physical safeguards that protect and maintain the privacy and security of protected health information.
Avoiding serious medical errors
When providers can’t access detailed records in an emergency, mistakes can be made and patients are harmed. Medical errors have hurt nearly 8,000 Californians in the last 5 years, and are the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
Reducing duplicative tests and improving emergency room care
A study of New York’s HIE network found that HIE use was associated with a 25% decrease in the odds of repeat imaging.1 Another study found that patients seen in emergency departments that received electronic patient summaries had 2.4% lower rates of admission than average visits, $1,000 lower visit costs and visits that were nearly an hour shorter.2 Given that the length of stay in emergency rooms in California is over an hour above the national average for discharged patients, the widespread use of a statewide HIE network in California could free up providers’ time to devote to other patients in the emergency department and reduce the length of patient stays.3
Enabling organizations to manage patient care through risk-stratiﬁcation
The average patient sees 19 doctors over their lifetime, and even “clinically integrated” networks of physician groups capture health data in as many as 35 EHR systems. 4 Aggregating data from multiple facilities is essential to identify the highest risk patients
for any number of health conditions and to manage their care, and datasets using both clinical and claims data have proven to be the most effective in predicting high costs and hospitalizations.5
Improving access to prescription data for medication management
An estimated 26% of hospital readmissions are medication-related.6 Research has attributed this to several factors: 50% of patients do not take medications as prescribed7, and an estimated 24% do not pick up their medications at all.8 In addition, patients often are on unmanageable medication regimens due to a lack of communication between providers; some studies have found that nearly 40% of older adults are taking ﬁve or more medications.9 Combining clinical prescription data with medication claims from a statewide HIE network can give care teams real time insight into which medications were taken and ﬁlled as prescribed, helping improve patients’ medication regimens and adherence.