As contained in the recent ONC Brief 17 that examines the growth in health information sharing between 2008 and 2013, the percentage of hospitals participating in health information exchange has steadily grown: currently, slightly more than 6 out of 10 hospitals share health information with providers outside of their facility. The most commonly shared types of health information are lab and radiology results, followed by clinical care summaries, which are being shared by less than half of the respondents. Notably, less than a third of respondents currently share patient medication history.

Hospital health information exchange graphics

The medication history statistic is particularly surprising since multiple studies have demonstrated a strong correlation between medication adherence and decreased cost of care. By integrating pharmacies into the care partner mix, healthcare organizations and patients can begin to realize a positive financial impact from pharmacy medication data. The IMS Health report Avoidable Costs in US Healthcare published June 2013 includes the chart below which illustrates the potential savings that can be derived from patients following their medication regimen. These avoidable healthcare costs include medication nonadherence, antibiotic misuse, medication errors, and suboptimal use of generics.

Exhibit 1

When the cost components are broken down into quality outcomes, the impact of medication adherence is even more clear. As shown below, the same IMS report confirms $185 billion in potential savings from unneeded acute and outpatient visits, as well as significant savings in prescription and ER visits.

Exhibit 2

The opportunity for improved savings and outcomes vary by state. While some high population areas are ahead in the HIE race (NJ, PA, OH, FL), others such as CA, NY, IL and TX are on par with or lagging behind their peers, according to data in ONC Brief 17. Given that medication adherence information is shared less than lab and radiology results and clinical patient summaries, it's clear that the savings opportunity is significant.

Figure 4

In order to improve the quality of care and lower the costs of healthcare in the U.S., healthcare organizations must share patient data with all care providers involved in the delivery of care. The siloed data approach of the past is not sustainable in a patient-centric, value-based care delivery model. Once the appropriate patient consent across care settings and providers is in place, patient data must begin to flow freely between all parties, including pharmacies, if more cost effective care is to be delivered.

CVS Pharmacy's participation in the CommonWell Health Alliance and as a member of Jersey Health Connect is evidence that the market is taking additional steps to improve clinical and financial outcomes. [Watch the video Jersey Health Connect Competitors Collaborate for Care Coordination Success]. Healthcare leaders should carefully consider how their HIE infrastructure will take advantage of this new trend.

Note: This post is not to be read as having been conducted with any statistical rigor, only as commentary on published industry reports and topics featured in news stories. To download the reports referenced in this post: Visit IMS Health and download the 2013 IMS Health report Avoidable Costs in US Healthcare.

For the full ONC Brief 17 report, please visit the Data Briefs section on the Newsroom.

Andrew Heller

About the author

Andrew Heller is a Market Intelligence Manager with McKesson Connected Care & Analytics. He has been with McKesson for over four years. Prior to McKesson, Andrew worked in market research roles in health care, technology and consumer electronics companies including Vitera (formerly Sage), Ceridian, Panasonic, and Verizon Wireless (formerly AirTouch). When not at work, Andrew enjoys spending time with his family and the mayhem that comes with raising two boys.