Quantifying benefits of using health information exchange to support public health STI reporting and treatment in Western New York
OBJECTIVE: To calculate average savings of using health information exchange (HIE) for demographic and treatment requests for chlamydia and gonorrhoea in Western New York, specifically the Erie County Department of Health and its catchment area.
METHOD: We conducted a mixed-method case study. Qualitative methods included interviews, document review, and workflow mapping, which were used as the inputs to identify time savings. Case rates, time savings, and salary averages were used to calculate average savings.
RESULTS: The avoided demographic information requests resulted in time and money savings (range of USD$2312-USD$4624 for chlamydia and USD$809-USD$1512 for gonorrhoea) as did avoided treatment requests (range of USD$671-USD$2803 for chlamydia and USD$981-USD$1635 for gonorrhoea).
DISCUSSION: HIE supported sexually transmitted infection (STI) treatment by making it easier for public health staff to identify and act upon STI diagnoses. Availability of information online resulted in less reliance on provider offices for demographic and treatment information.
CONCLUSION: Results indicated that using HIE to support treatment and management of STIs can save public health staff time spent on obtaining demographic and treatment information. Other public health departments could use HIE for this and other types of disease surveillance activities. Considering public health needs in HIE development and use can improve efficiency of public health services and enhance effectiveness of activities.