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Image Enabled HIEs: Do You Get The Picture?

We’ve all heard the promises of connectivity and interoperability through health information exchange systems (HIEs). What if we told you that many HIEs today are still missing a large, essential piece of the puzzle?

Out of the HIEs that exist, less than two percent have the ability to transfer medical images along with patientinteroperability_blog_image health information.

While the capacity to view patient demographic information is a huge step forward, text-based records only represent a fraction of a patient’s medical history. With the ability to easily view associated imaging work, doctors can receive a more complete picture (pun intended) and deliver more streamlined care.

Image-enabled HIEs will not only benefit the healthcare institution financially, they will also prevent unnecessary health risk for patients.

Financial Benefits of Image Enabled HIEs

Currently, the healthcare system is volume based, and providers are reimbursed for each medical image taken at their institution. Approximately one third of the aforementioned x-rays and scans are unnecessary. Each year, billions of dollars in medical costs are avoidable, if technology is utilized properly. HIEs are the platforms that can lower this startling number.

In a study released in January of this year, it was found that emergency departments using image enabled HIEs were 8.7 percent less likely to repeat CT scans, 9 percent less likely to repeat ultrasounds, and 13 percent less likely to repeat chest x-rays. hese decreases alone are enough to save $19 million dollars annually across the United States. Health information exchange systems have already begun to prove their worth by saving institutions large sums of money on repetitive imaging procedures.

Health Benefits of Image Enabled HIEs

According to an alarming article published by the New York Times in January, a single CT scan exposes a patient to enough radiation to cause cancer. How does this relate to HIEs? Radiation exposure from our own medical technology has become a silent killer, and we need to limit it. Image enabled HIEs grant providers easy access to patients’ imaging work, reducing the need for redundant scans. This, in turn, limits unnecessary risk for individuals.

HIEs with an image-sharing component also provide a complete history of medical imaging work, which allows providers to view how much radiation a patient has received over a lifetime. With this, some doctors may think twice before ordering additional CT or MRI scans to spare further exposure.

Image enabled HIEs reduce spending in healthcare and monitor radiation in patients by limiting redundant imaging. While more systems need to take the plunge into implementing existing image sharing capabilities, this technology is undoubtedly the future of health information exchange platforms.

Do you get the picture?

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About Catherine Slotnick

Catherine Slotnick is a passionate healthcare marketer with a deep interest in the latest & greatest in the Health IT space. As Ambra Health's marketing manager, Catherine primarily focuses on creating and sharing thought leadership content in the radiology and informatics space. Catherine graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in Psychology & Art History. When she's not writing, she enjoys cooking and petting dogs that aren't hers.

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