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Health policy expert to study electronic sharing of health information in primary care

October 13, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has awarded a grant to a health and policy management expert at the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to study for the first time the use and effectiveness of alternative methods of electronically sharing information in primary care settings.

The United States has invested billions on interoperable health information technologies, but there is very little evidence of health information exchange's effects on utilization and on how it is used in primary care practice, said Joshua Vest, an associate professor in the Fairbanks School of Public Health.

According to Vest, providers have access to two different health information exchange approaches to meet their information needs.

One approach is referred to as "pull," which allows providers to query community wide, longitudinal patient records. A second approach is "push," where key information, such as test results, is automatically delivered to providers.

There is a lack of evidence of the effectiveness of either the "push" or "pull" approach, Vest said. "Furthermore, which approach to sharing information best fits into primary care is unknown," he said.

One objective of the study is to determine whether primary care providers use "push" and "pull" as complementary or alternative approaches to health information exchange, Vest said.

The study will leverage a novel data set of individual provider and staff behavior tracked within an electronic health record system, combined with detailed measures of "push" and "pull" health information exchange usage.

"These data furnish a complete, detailed temporal sequence of providers' behavior, revealing how each approach to health information exchange is used during a patient visit," Vest said.

The study will also quantify the effect of "push" and "pull" health information exchange on potentially avoidable health care utilization, he said.
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Indiana University

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