Health care providers and consumers alike have benefited significantly from Health Information Exchange (HIE), a system and industry whose main goal is to improve health care quality. To understand how its uses can be maximized and its risked minimized, it is important to have a full understanding of HIE.
Here are the most common scenarios where HIE proves most beneficial:
Emergencies Arising from Accidents
If you get into an accident and are unable to provide details of your medical history to your health care provider, the staff can simply look up information about you, such as your medications, illnesses and tests. This allows them to move very quickly as they draw up an emergency care plan for you.
If your area was affected by a disaster, such as hurricanes and other extreme weather conditions, your health information will remain safely stored in electronic form.
Improved Care with Less Errors
When a health care provider can access your information anytime and anywhere, they will be able to get a more accurate picture of your health. That also means they will be able to give you the best treatment.
For instance, if you can’t tell them what medications you’re taking at present, they can just look at your information and prescribe medicines that will not cause adverse reactions. This is actually a very important benefit, knowing that a medical condition can worsen when a patient is prescribed the wrong medication.
In terms of the safety benefits of HIE, another way it helps is by preventing test duplication, especially x-rays and other lab tests that expose the patient to radiation and other side effects. Of course, this also means lessening your costs.
When health information is stored and used digitally, tracking access becomes a whole lot easier. In short, you would easily know who looked up your records, when, what type of information was accessed, and the like. When you need these details for any legal purpose, the process because easier when done electronically than with old-fashioned paper files.
HIE, as with any process or system, has its own controlled risks. An example is identity theft, although this can be managed by implementing the right precautions and safeguards to the system. Truth is, all electronic systems are dealing with this risk.
Another risk is feeding erroneous information into the system, but again, this can be avoided by choosing reliable people for this role. The risk is also present with paper health records, but way lower with HIE. HIE can also perform checks and balances, which paper records cannot.
It’s good to ask your health care provider if they participate in HIE. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about protecting your health data.