Diagnostic EHR Data Sharing Could Improve Patient Outcomes, Finds Study

EHR Data SharingSharing electronic health records (EHRs) is an ideal way to quickly share diagnostic data among hospitals and providers. A recent study published in the American Journal of Managed Care has found that the trend of hospitals sharing EHR data with providers within their health system is associated with improved communication among providers and better patient outcomes. Many physicians rely on EHR-integrated medical transcription services offered by experienced companies to better manage their electronic medical records.

Researchers used Hospital Compare (HC) and American Hospital Association (AHA) Annual Information Technology Survey data to examine the effects of medical information sharing on different groups of providers and hospitals within and outside of the hospital system.

The CMS HC database that contained publicly reported quality measures including patient outcomes such as 30-day mortality and readmission for heart failure (HF) and pneumonia have been used to examine patient mortality and readmissions. These data were employed in a multivariate linear regression analysis to check the associations among hospital sharing of EHR diagnostic data and differences in patient mortality and readmissions. The AHA survey listed 4 provider sharing types such as “With hospitals inside of your system,” “With hospitals outside of your system,” “With ambulatory providers inside of your system,” and “With ambulatory providers outside of your system.” The team linked AHA survey data from 3,113 distinct hospitals to each hospital’s corresponding CMS Hospital Compare scores.

Key findings of the study are as follows. Sharing diagnostic data through the EHRs –

  • within their system was associated with significantly lower 30-day patient mortality scores
  • outside their system was associated with significantly higher 30-day patient mortality scores
  • with physicians was significantly associated with lower heart failure readmissions overall

Researchers also discussed that data sharing between different health systems may be ineffective, as few healthcare organizations have integrated image data into patient EHRs or exchange. In such cases, sharing of some diagnostic data, such as radiology reports may be limited by a lack of radiology images in patient health records. The team also noted that more hospitals shared data with physicians within their own system than with physicians outside their system. While 72% of hospitals shared radiology reports with hospitals within their system, only 36% shared radiology reports with hospitals outside their system. Providers can benefit from timely EHR documentation and information sharing with the support of reliable medical transcription companies. They should, however, be clear about the data sharing policies of the company they rely on.