Emergency Physicians Study Lack of Information at the Point of Care

Date: August 26th, 2015Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: HIE, Emergency Services, Patient Care


A group of emergency physicians recently released a paper on how health information exchange can improve emergency care.

In a paper published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, a group of emergency doctors from the American College of Emergency Physicians discuss the lack of patient information at the point of care, as patients often receive care from multiple providers in multiple settings. This can lead some emergency physicians to feel like they’re “flying blind” with no patient history, such as information on medication allergies.

The paper zeroes in on health information exchange as a specific solution to this lack of data where and when the emergency physicians need it. “The goal of all emergency physicians is to provide safe, efficient and effective emergency care, and more access to well organized patient information helps us achieve that goal,” says co-author Jason Shapiro, MD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Five Main Recommendations for HIE

Studying the benefits of a national health information exchange (HIE) system, the paper outlines the group’s recommendations:

  • Care standards and protocols for integrating HIE use in ED settings should be developed
  • ED physicians need to participate in regional and federal health information exchange-related activities to appropriately represent their interests
  • Federal regulatory and legislative measures must support a set of HIE standards that includes and prioritizes elements relevant to emergency care
  • Local professional groups should provide appropriate data for emergency physicians and should consider performing pilots with HIE to boost the focus on emergency care
  • Policies should be developed regarding the standard of care for review and inclusion of HIE data in electronic health records in emergency care settings

“Significant changes are needed to support a system of effective national HIE that can rapidly and efficiently yield useful health information to health care providers in emergency departments,” says Shapiro. “These changes should include support for emergency physician access to all relevant patient information in a properly summarized and understandable form.”

CORHIO Provides Clinical Data to Community EDs

Here in Colorado, the CORHIO health information exchange is being used in several emergency departments, including the SCL Health System (formerly Exempla) and Centura Health hospitals.  Emergency physicians are using the secure web-based portal PatientCare 360® to check for life-threatening medication allergies, recent lab test results or radiology studies, and past history of “ER shopping” or over-use of emergency facilities.

“For patients that are complicated and may not know their entire history, having another source of information is incredibly helpful,” says Dr. Jack Sharon, an emergency physician and Chief of Staff at Penrose St. Francis Health Services. “…going through CORHIO, I can see what workups have been done at the other facility and that helps me tailor the workup I need to do on the patient here. CORHIO really does help move healthcare forward.”