Purpose: Shared Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems, which provide a health information exchange (HIE) within a community of care, were found to be a key enabler of informational continuity of diabetes mellitus (DM) care. Quantitative analyses of the actual contribution of Shared EHR systems to informational continuity of care are rare. The goal of this study was to quantitatively analyze (i) the degree of fragmentation of DM care in Austria as an indicator for the need for HIE, and (ii) the quantity of information (i.e. number of documents) from Austrian DM patients that would be made available by a nationwide Shared EHR system for HIE. Methods: Our analyses are based on social security claims data of 7.9 million Austrians from 2006 and 2007. DM patients were identified through medication data and inpatient diagnoses. The degree of fragmentation was determined by the number of different healthcare providers per patient. The amount of information that would be made available by a nationwide Shared EHR system was estimated by the number of documents that would have been available to a healthcare provider if he had access to information on the patient's visits to any of the other healthcare providers. As a reference value we determined the number of locally available documents that would have originated from the patient's visits to the healthcare provider himself. We performed our analysis for two types of systems: (i) a "comprehensive" Shared EHR system (SEHRS), where each visit of a patient results in a single document (progress note), and (ii) the Austrian ELGA system, which allows four specific document types to be shared. Results: 391,630 DM patients were identified, corresponding to 4.7% of the Austrian population. More than 90% of the patients received health services from more than one healthcare provider in one year. Both, the SEHRS as well as ELGA would have multiplied the available information during a patient visit in comparison to an isolated local EHR system; the median ratio of external to local medical documents was between 1:1 for a typical visit at a primary care provider (SEHRS as well as ELGA) and 39:1 (SEHRS) respectively 28:1 (ELGA) for a typical visit at a hospital. Conclusions: Due to the high degree of care fragmentation, there is an obvious need for HIE for Austrian DM patients. Both, the SEHRS as well as ELGA could provide a substantial contribution to informational continuity of care in Austrian DM treatment. Hospitals and specialists would have gained the most amount of external information, primary care providers and pharmacies would have at least doubled their available information. Despite being the most important potential feeders of a national Shared EHR system according to our analysis, primary care providers will not tap their full corresponding potential under the current implementation scenario of ELGA.
Rinner, C., Sauter, S. K., Endel, G., Heinze, G., Thurner, S., Klimek, P., & Duftschmid, G. (2016). Improving the informational continuity of care in diabetes mellitus treatment with a nationwide Shared EHR system: Estimates from Austrian claims data. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 92, 44–53. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2016.05.001