Anyone who has visited a health care provider knows the drill: Fill out endless paperwork with medical history, only to turn around and repeat the process at another physician. Or, worse yet, treatment in an emergency room is stymied waiting for medication or allergy records.

The antidote

That’s about to be remedied. “By connecting your doctors, hospitals and labs together, your care team can access your health information quickly and securely: wherever you go and whenever they need it,” explains Mark Pasquale, the president and CEO of the Missouri Health Connection, a regional health information network.

“'We are moving to where aggregated clinical data can be analyzed and used to predict who might come back to an emergency room in 30 days or may develop diseases.'"

The result? A reduction in duplicate testing—one study showed access to historical data cut lab tests by 52 percent and radiology exams by 36 percent—plus fewer unnecessary readmissions, a decline in medication errors, and overall improved diagnoses.

Working with a full picture

“Health information sharing lets us care for the whole patient, as reflected by their entire medical record—as opposed to the small fragment we typically have in front of us,” explains Dr. Ed Chung, physician advisor for InterSystems, a developer of health care data management, connectivity and analytics technologies.

Sharing instead of “siloing” information benefits the future health of patients, too. Todd Rogow is the senior vice president and CIO of Healthix, New York State's largest regional health information organization and one of the largest public health information exchanges in the country. Rogow explains: “We are moving to where aggregated clinical data can be analyzed and used to predict who might come back to an emergency room in 30 days or may develop diseases, such as diabetes."