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Analyzing the Public Benefit Attributable to Interoperable Health Information Exchange

Publication Date

This project developed methods and measures that can be used to quantify the public benefits that result from Interoperable Health Information Exchange (IEHI). In the first phase of this project, a literature review was conducted and discussions were held with subject matter experts to identify areas where evidence suggests that the greatest benefits resulting from IEHI might be found. Next a concept paper was developed; and feedback on the paper was elicited from a technical expert panel (TEP). In the second phase of the project, additional SME discussions were conducted, and a use case approach was developed to move the evidence-base forward. These findings were then reviewed by a second TEP meeting.

In the first phase, the study found that the current empirical evidence on the public benefits associated with IEHI is limited. Based on the available evidence on public benefits, the most promising starting point appears to be the ability of IEHI to reduce use of repeat and unnecessary imaging and perhaps hospital admissions. Most recent studies had limited ability to make causal inferences because of the lack of pre-IEHI baseline information, lack of a comparison group showing results where there was no IEHI, and lack of information on whether IEHI data was actually being used.

In the second phase, the study identified a use case approach to identifying measures that can be used to help fill gaps in existing literature and demonstrate the public benefits associated with IEHI while avoiding some methodological challenges. Based on these findings the study proposes a strategy to develop IEHI use measures that enable robust evaluation of the impacts associated with IEHI and to gather such data from study settings where valid results can be obtained (e.g., where IEHI technology is sufficiently mature and where the technology is actually being used).