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Hospitals, HMOs, and independent doctors’ offices have long kept arduous records of their patient’s visits and treatments. Unfortunately, sharing that information has traditionally been a long, painstaking process involving a good deal of manual labor. A new trend is on the rise, however, that is sure to benefit everyone from patients to doctors to medical administrators: health information exchanges.
Health information exchanges (HIEs) are essentially the mobilization of clinical records to online repositories where the data can be shared with a regional, community, or hospital network of physicians and caregivers. By moving health data to the “cloud,” many systemic efficiencies will be created. Patients will receive better continuous care from one doctor to the next, duplicate tests can be eliminated, and hospital admissions can be reduced, all leading to significant savings for hospitals and insurance companies.
The government has earmarked $548 million in federal funding to help states create HIEs, and they are taking advantage – the funds are projected to be completely distributed by 2015. While these funds may not sustain the information exchanges, the projected 50,000 jobs they’ll create should help.
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