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          Advancing the exchange of health information

          The truth of the matter is that patient information does not always follow the patient. In transitions of care, often all information does not transfer, which causes duplicate testing and medical errors.

          To improve diagnoses and prevent readmission it is important that all this information (including, if possible, doctor discharge instructions) transfers. This is especially the case with patients suffering from chronic conditions.

          Today in most care settings the current exchange of information occurs by fax, mail, or phone and not electronically. This, in turn, leads to not having the information available for the decision-maker at the point of care.

          While the demand for information exchange is growing in healthcare, there is a high cost associated with exchange. Some of it can be attributed to the lack of adoption of standards and the failure to use existing information exchange standards.

          If there is to be an answer to this scary truth, greater adoption of Health Information Exchange (HIE) has to occur. The government realizes this. The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) has a better understanding of what is ahead in terms of key factors for successful information exchange and realizes the patient needs to be kept at the center of medical record management

          One type of exchange that needs closer attention is a consumer-driven exchange. If a patient has the ability to manage medical information and is able to send and receive data electronically, he or she will be enabled to be a more prominent stakeholder in care coordination. In turn, the patient will then have the ability to share it with care providers evaluate the information for errors, correct any inaccuracies, and generally be in a position to make better healthcare decisions and follow good health habits.

          The job of solutions providers is to ensure privacy, deliver public benefit, and provide ease of use for greater adoption by patients so that they in fact can become spirited stakeholders. Once successful exchange can occur, great benefit can be derived in filtering, searching, and driving a better understanding of patient information that can help improve healthcare outcomes for all.

          Visit the Office of National Coordinator website to learn more about Health Information Exchange and what's being done to improve patient care.