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Health info exchange: Short-term growth, but long-term concerns
Date:7/9/2013

ANN ARBOR While record numbers of hospitals and doctors participate in electronic health information exchange efforts, which enable medical histories to follow patients as they move between healthcare providers, the long-term success of these programs is in question.

That's according to a new national survey of health information exchange organizations led by a University of Michigan researcher.

Health information exchange efforts come into play primarily when patients switch doctors or are admitted to a hospital. Because they give doctors access to patients' medical histories, they could improve diagnoses and reduce redundant tests, boosting both the quality and efficiency of care. They've been deemed a national priority, and $548 million from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was devoted to helping states establish them.

So it might not be surprising that since the research team's last survey in 2010, there's been a doubling in the percentage of U.S. hospitals that take part in an exchange program and a tripling in the percentage of participating doctor's offices. The new study counted 119 operational exchange efforts nationwide a 61 percent increase from 2010. Today, 30 percent of U.S. hospitals and 10 percent of doctors' offices are involved in one.

"What we've seen is this federal money really has made a big difference," said lead study author Julia Adler-Milstein, an assistant professor in the U-M School of Information and School of Public Health. "What hasn't really moved, though, is the perception that the organizations haven't figured out how to fund themselves, which will be a big problem after the government grant money runs out in January 2014."

A full 74 percent of the exchange programs reported that they're struggling to develop a sustainable business model. Over the years, some organizations have closed their doors when grants ended. Adler-Milstein offers one explanation why:

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Contact: Nicole Casal Moore
ncmoore@umich.edu
734-647-7087
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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