Hospitals adopting more tech in health information exchange, which may present its own risks

health information exchange

Among 1,917 hospitals across the U.S. from 2014-2016, there was a consistent increase in engagement and adoption of types health information exchange, but no single one of those tools provided high levels of usable, integrated health information.

The conclusion comes in a new study published by Jordan Everson, PhD, assistant professor of Health Policy, and Evan Butler, an MPH candidate (2020) in the Health Policy track at Vanderbilt University. The study published Feb. 12 in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

The study looks specifically at the adoption of secure messaging, provider portals and the use of a health information exchange to assess if increasing adoption of the tools related to increased ability to access and integrate patient information from outside providers.

What the study found was that adoption of each tool and adoption of multiple tools increased over time, so that in 2016 one quarter of hospitals had adopted all three. The likelihood of having necessary information increased more as more types of information exchange technology were adopted.

What this says, the researchers concluded, is that no single tool provided high levels of information. Instead hospitals benefited from using multiple tools. This presents a risk, however, because not all tools are compatible, collect the same information or are accessed the same way. “If information is presented in different views or formats, the ultimate value of this information may also be reduced,” they wrote. “As the trend towards the implementation of multiple complex interoperability tools continues, greater attention to the impact of these tools on clinical value will be essential.”

Read the full study here.