A recent study conducted by Epic Research has revealed the importance of health information exchange (HIE) in emergency departments (EDs), presenting compelling evidence that access to external health records can reduce the occurrence of code blue events. The analysis, involving 95 million ED visits over a period spanning from January 1, 2017, to October 1, 2023, zeroes in on visits classified under Emergency Severity Index (ESI) levels 1 through 3. The study’s focus on Care Everywhere documents, which signal the presence of health records from other organizations, allows for a greater understanding of how the integration of external health information impacts patient outcomes in emergency care scenarios.
The methodology behind this research involved a detailed examination of patient encounters with varying levels of urgency as defined by the ESI—a system designed to prioritize patient care based on the severity of their condition. By isolating cases with ESI levels 1 to 3 and identifying those with accompanying Care Everywhere documents, the study drew a direct correlation between the availability of comprehensive health data and a decrease in life-threatening code blue events. This correlation was found to be particularly strong in patients with higher acuity levels, indicating that timely access to a patient’s complete health history can be a decisive factor in preventing emergencies.
An interesting aspect of the findings is the differential impact of HIE on various age groups. While the presence of external health data did not alter outcomes for patients younger than 17, it substantially lowered the risk for older demographics, especially those over 65, where the reduction in code blue events reached up to 51%. This gradient of risk reduction shows the variable benefits of HIE across different patient populations. The study reinforced these conclusions through sensitivity analyses, taking into account factors such as the care received in the year prior to the ED visit and the frequency of healthcare encounters, thereby affirming the reliability of the observed benefits of HIE.
The study’s implications are quite positive in the future role of interoperability and data exchange in enhancing patient safety and care efficiency in emergency settings. With a dataset derived from Cosmos, containing records from 236 Epic health systems, the research offers a foundation for advocating the expanded use of HIE technologies. By demonstrating a clear link between the integration of external health information and a marked reduction in emergency interventions, the study sets a precedent for healthcare providers to prioritize the adoption of HIE solutions.