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Few docs, hospitals exchanging patient data

Reuters Health, May 20, 2011

Health information exchange -- a process that aims to simplify and improve patient care by connecting doctors and hospitals -- hasn't been catching on as fast as policymakers hoped, a new survey finds. The results also show that organizations responsible for coordinating the digital exchange of patient records are rarely financially viable, and only a few support the type of information exchange that the government deems necessary. "Part of meaningfully using electronic health records is the ability to send and receive data between systems," Julia Adler-Milstein, one of the study's authors from Harvard Business School, told Reuters Health. "A lot of the value comes from having complete patient information at the point of care, and not all patients see the same doctor for their whole lives." One way to address that, she said, has been through government-funded regional health information organizations, or RHIOs.