Interest in improving quality and effectiveness is the primary driver for health information exchange efforts across a health care system to improve the provision of public health care services.
Objective: The aim here was to describe and identify the impact of a regional health information exchange (HIE) using quantitative statistics for 2004–2008 in one hospital district in Finland.
Design: We conducted a comparative, longitudinal 5-year follow-up study to evaluate the utilization rates of HIE, and the impact on health care delivery outcomes. The selected outcomes were total laboratory tests, radiology examinations, appointments, emergency visits, and referrals.
Results: The HIE utilization rates increased annually in all 10 federations of municipalities, and the viewing of reference information increased steadily in each professional group over the 5-year study period. In these federations, a significant connection was found to the number of laboratory tests and radiology examinations, with a statistically significant increase in the number of viewed references and use of HIE. The higher the numbers of emergency visits and appointments, the higher the numbers of emergency referrals to specialized care, viewed references, and HIE usage among the groups of different health care professionals.
Conclusions: There is increasing interest in HIE usage through regional health information system among health professionals to improve health care delivery regionally and bring information on the patient directly to care delivery. It will be important to study which changes in working methods in the service system are explained by RHIS. Also, the experiences of the change that has taken place should be studied among the different stakeholders, administrative representatives, and patients.