Recent national media attention has drawn sharp focus on the surge in patient exposure to medical radiation. According to the National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements, Americans have experienced a six-fold increase in radiation exposure between 1980 and 2006 due to broad applications of CT scans and other medical imaging techniques. Recognition of these trends has led medical accrediting bodies such as the American College of Radiologists to issue new appropriateness guidelines. Moreover, some insurance carriers are employing imaging appropriateness case managers who provide prior authorization before clinicians can administer a scan.
The emergence of community HIEs has begun to play a role in avoiding unnecessary exposure to radiation by enabling records and images to be shared between unaffiliated providers. In a study conducted by Weill Cornell Medical School, published in the December 2015 issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology, researchers documented a 19% reduction in imaging orders when clinicians had access to prior records through the community HIE.
The regional health information exchange for Southeast Texas, Greater Houston Healthconnect, is supporting industry-wide efforts to reduce non-medically indicated duplicate testing by deploying a lightweight image sharing solution, which is tightly integrated within the exchange platform and linked to MPI. By incorporating imaging within the community health record, providers have an alternative to ordering expensive duplicate images that are often not reimbursable by insurance carriers.
Due to its agile architecture, smaller radiology practices as well as large institutions can readily use this solution. Images may be queried through the health information exchange and integrated as a part of the medical record.