Annual health information exchange survey shows positive ROI

By Diana Manos
12:00 AM

A growing number of providers and health plans surveyed by the eHealth Initiative report a positive return on their healthcare exchange investments, according to eHi's fifth annual survey, released Thursday.

For the first time in an eHi survey, a majority (69 percent) of respondents reported a positive financial return on their investment for participating stakeholders, including health plans, hospitals, laboratories and physician practices. In 2007, 31 percent reported a positive ROI.

The electronic exchange of health information between physicians, hospitals, health plans and patients is decreasing the cost of care and improving outcomes, the survey found. The reported savings came through elimination of redundant tests, fewer hospital stays for medication errors, decreased costs of caring for chronically ill patients and reduced staff time spent on administration, those surveyed reported.

eHi's "Fifth Annual Survey of Health Information Exchange at the State and Local Levels," which included responses from 130 community-based initiatives in 48 states, showed the significant impact that fully operational initiatives are having on improving health care delivery and efficiency, officials said.

About half of fully operational exchange efforts reported positive impacts on healthcare delivery, including fewer prescribing errors, improved access to test results, improved compliance with chronic care and prevention guidelines, better care outcomes for patients, increased recognition of disease outbreaks, improved quality of practice life and reductions in malpractice insurance costs, according to the survey.

Janet Marchibroda, eHi's chief executive officer, said the survey shows a direct link between the electronic exchange of health information and improved efficiency, reduced costs and better patient outcomes.

"These are exciting results and demonstrate that the significant potential impact predicted for electronic medical records is now being realized all across the nation," she said.

According to Rachel Block, executive director of the New York eHealth Collaborative and president of the eHealth Initiative Foundation, securing upfront funding and achieving a sustainable business model are among the most difficult challenges faced by state and local initiatives focused on health information exchange.

"The good news is that we are now making progress – efforts across the U.S. are now able to demonstrate value through collaboration among and sharing of the costs of the exchange across all participating health care stakeholders, which ultimately provides benefits to everyoneóparticularly patients," she said.

eHi will hold a conference at noon Thursday to launch the new survey, with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Department of Health and Human Services National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Robert Kolodner, MD, expected to speak.

Are you experiencing a positive ROI on your information exchange investment? Send comments to Senior Editor Diana Manos at