As readers of this publication know, many hospitals are interested in participating in HIEs, but are buried in projects already and not so sure the investment will pay off. But here’s an instance where a very modest HIE application helped a health plan save real money in just six months without having to do an expensive buildout.
According to iHealthBeat, a new study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has found that simply sending near real-time alerts to health plans when a member is admitted to the hospital ED could help the health plan save money and get patients into primary care.
To do the study, Indiana Health Information Exchange programmers developed an application which sent daily alerts about health plan members who visited EDs at nine Central Indiana hospitals. As part of the pilot, the alerts were sent to the participating health plan within 24 hours. The health plan then used this data to replace non-urgent ED visits with primary care visits, iHealthBeat reports.
During the six-month pilot, the health plan was able to reduce nonemergency ED visits at participating hospitals by 53 percent; the same time primary care visits among plan members jumped to 68 percent during the pilot period.
The bottom line in all of this was that after using the daily updates to guide patient behavior, the health plan was able to save $2 million to $4 million over six months. While I could be wrong, I don’t believe there are many test cases out there that can demonstrate the effectiveness of hospital to plan communication and brag of this much success. While this isn’t exactly an argument for all hospitals to have HIEs, this does suggest that shared, timely information on important patient behaviors can be extremely valuable.