Health Information Exchange Use in Primary Care

Date
2020-08
Language
American English
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Ph.D.
Degree Year
2020
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Indiana University
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Abstract

The United States has invested over $40 billion in digitizing the health care system, yet the anticipated gains in improved care coordination, quality, and cost savings remain largely unrealized. This is due in part to limited interoperability and low rates of health information exchange (HIE) use, which can support care coordination and improve provider decision-making. Primary care providers are central to the US health care delivery system and frequently function as care coordinators, yet capability and HIE use gaps among these providers limit the potential of these digital systems to achieve their intended goals. I study HIE use in the context of primary care to examine 1) factors associated with provider HIE use, 2) the extent and nature of team-based HIE use, and 3) differences in HIE system use patterns across discrete groups of system users. First, I use a national sample of primary care providers to analyze market and practice factors related to HIE use for patient referrals. Overall, I find that only 43% of primary care provider referrals used HIE. Furthermore, I find substantial variation in HIE use rates across electronic health record (EHR) vendors. Second, I use HIE system log data to understand the breadth and depth of HIE use among teams, a care model underpinning primary care delivery reform efforts. I find that although use of HIE systems remains low, in primary care settings it overwhelmingly takes place in a manner consistent with team-based care workflows. Furthermore, team-based use does not differ in breadth from single provider HIE use, but illustrates less depth before and after visits. Third, I apply cluster analysis to 16 HIE use measures representing 7 use attributes, and identify 5 discrete user groups. I then compare two of these user groups and find user-level variation in volume and efficiency of use, both of which have implications for HIE system design and usability improvements. Ultimately, these findings help to inform how HIE use can be increased and improved in primary care, moving the US health care system closer to realizing the coordination, quality, and cost savings made possible by a digitized delivery system.

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Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)
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