By AuntMinnie.com staff writers

May 31, 2018 -- A new meta-analysis of published research studies on the effectiveness of health information exchanges (HIEs) concluded that such exchanges reduce the cost and use of healthcare. The findings contradict a study published several years ago that found no evidence to back the benefits of HIEs.

In the new review, a research team led by Nir Menachemi, PhD, from Indiana University examined 24 research articles published between May 2014 and June 2017, including 63 HIE analyses. The findings were published April 28 in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Of all the analyses, 68.3% reported that HIEs had a beneficial effect, while 7.9% reported an unexpected adverse effect. There was no effect reported in the remaining analyses. What's more, community-based exchanges -- in which any healthcare provider can participate -- were more likely to produce benefits than exchanges that were proprietary or enterprise-based.

The findings run counter to a review published in 2015 in Health Affairs that was also authored by Menachemi. That review only found weak evidence linking HIEs to reduced costs, better use of health services, or improved quality of care.

What's the difference between now and then? One change could be that the recent studies are examining more mature HIEs that have evolved to be more effective than earlier-generation systems, Menachemi speculated.


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