A New York HIE has concluded that it’s having the impact supporters of data sharing have always hoped for – generating a substantial level of healthcare savings.
According to an announcement by the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC), organizations using the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY) are reducing needless healthcare spending in the state by $160 million to $195 million annually.
Not only that, NYeC projects that if current participants used the HIE’s full capabilities, they could save almost $1 billion by avoiding duplicative testing, avoidable hospital stays and slashing the volume of preventable emergency department visits.
In making these estimates, NYeC relied on the methodology developed by the ONC designed to measure cost savings levels associated with related federal proposals, including rules related to implementing provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act and enhancements to the ONC Health IT Certification program.
The group says its results are consistent with peer-reviewed academic studies concluding that HIE use is associated with 50% reductions in rates of hospital readmissions, 26% reductions in rates of ED admissions, 35% reductions in repeat imaging procedures and 10% lower 30-day readmission rates among Medicare FFS beneficiaries.
Though NYeC didn’t say this directly, it’s likely that part of its apparent success springs from the fact that its provider participation rate seems to be relatively high, with 100% of hospitals and 100,000 healthcare providers connected to SHIN-NY. HIE is now working on better supporting value-based care and adding to its roster of long-term care, behavioral health and community-based organizations connected to its network.
It would be great if other HIEs can generate similar savings levels in the foreseeable future. However, it seems unlikely that organizations in other states will perform as well if a significantly smaller share of hospitals and physicians is taking part.
For one thing, given the Catch 22 which providers face in joining HIEs – it won’t work well unless most get on board, but few want to get on board until it works – HIEs still face some stiff obstacles to growing their member base.
Not only that, as the demands placed on HIEs shift from straightforward information exchange support to serving as data analytics partners, they will need to keep improving their capabilities and investing in new analytics solutions. While there’s little doubt the smart people running HIEs can meet these goals, it isn’t going to be a simple task.
Regardless, NYeC deserves full marks for generating substantial savings. Let’s hope other states can make similar inroads in cutting costs.