Electronic health information exchange (HIE) from one health care professional to another is a growing trend at health care facilities to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of health care delivery. HIE allows health care professionals and patients to access and securely share patient’s medical information electronically. This can better inform decision making at the point of care and allow providers to avoid readmissions, avoid medication error, improve diagnoses, and decrease duplicate testing (HealthIT.gov, n.d). There are three key methods of HIE: directed exchange, query-based exchange, and consumer-mediated exchange.

The directed exchange allows health care professionals to easily and securely send patient information to another health care professional. This information is sent over the internet in an encrypted, secure, and reliable way amongst health care professionals who already know and trust each other (HealthIT.gov, n.d). Directed exchange process allows a primary care provider directly send electronic care summaries that include, lab results, plan of care, and medication. This directed exchange is important in health care because it can help the patient’s visit with other providers and prevent duplicate tests, redundant collection of patient information, and medication errors.

The second method of HIE is the query-based exchange. It is used by providers to search and discover accessible clinical sources on a patient (HealthIT.gov, n.d). This type of exchange allows providers the ability to find information when they are delivering unplanned care. For example, when a patient arrives at the emergency department, emergency room physicians will utilize query-based exchange to look up the patient’s medical history. From there, they may make a plan of care to avoid adverse medication reactions or duplicate testing.

The third method of HIE is the consumer-medicated exchange. Consumers with access to their own health information can improve the effectiveness and coordination of their health care by sharing information with other providers, identifying potential medical errors, correcting inaccurate health and billing information, and making more-informed decisions (Williams, Mostashari, Mertz, Hogin, & Atwal, 2012). Advancement in technology using the consumer-mediated exchange method gives patients the tool to the resources to control their health. Saving time and improving the communication with the patient and health care professional will create a precise system for a plan of care and convenience for patient access.

Health information exchange is important in health care because it tracks and securely shares patient’s complete medical histories. There are many benefits to HIE to improve the quality of care. Benefits of HIE include: stimulate consumer education, eliminating unnecessary paperwork, eliminate redundant or unnecessary testing, improve public health reporting and monitoring, and reduce health-related costs. Health information technology in the 21st century brings patients and health care professionals together on the same page. HIE is a great convenience in saving time, improving communication, and quality of care for providers, patients, and the community.

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