HIE Saves Memphis Hospitals $2M

I’ve always predicted that smaller HIEs would be the first to show big savings.  After all, it’s easier to coordinate a big project when you have the option of a quick face-to-face meeting, and what’s more, people are more likely to have personal relationships that help tie the network together in real life. So I’m not surprised to read that it’s a metro-area HIE which has just reported saving millions in a single year.

Last week, researchers reported that twelve hospitals in the Memphis area saved $2 million last year and had fewer hospital admissions by sharing EMR data. What makes this particularly interesting is that the hospitals shared data only among their emergency departments, rather than going for a facility-wide play.

In the study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Vanderbilt University researchers looked at every time in which HIE data was accessed over a period of 13 months. They then compared those records with those ED transactions in which HIE data wasn’t accessed.

The clinical flowed throw the MidSouth eHealth Alliance, which was formed through grants from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the state of Tennessee.

After analyzing the data, researchers found that the hospitals saved $1.95 million, 97 percent of which was due to lower admissions or  $1.1 million in net savings after subtracting the HIE’s operating costs.  (For more detailed study data, visit this study write up by the Advisory Board’s The Daily Briefing or this one on NHINwatch.com.)

Those are pretty nice numbers to begin with. They’re even more encouraging given that the HIE might generate even better savings if other departments got into the act.  Let’s hope other HIEs begin to see results like these.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

1 Comment

  • @Katherine … a more notable benefit of the Memphis HIE are the more informed clinical treatment decisions made in the ED when staff had access to pt ambulatory EMR data. The HIE made the HCO EDs more effective.

    Reading the various writeup of the Vanderbilt results it is not clear who saved $2mil. Did the studied HCOs save money? Actually be reducing admissions the HIE kept the HCOs from making money they would have billed to the payers. In large measure the HIE didn’t make the HCOs more efficient. The HIE made the HCOs more effective delivering improved clinical results. That’s a big differnce.
    The payers saved $2mil for services that were avoided through saved admissions from the EDs. The HIE made the payers more efficient.

    While improved clinical outcome contribution is an imperative if HIEs are to gain universal support … what is more important during the transition is clearly defining who saved the $2mil under this limited HIE employment … because that’s who needs to be sustaining the HIE once the grant money runs out.

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