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Patient-Sharing Relations in the Treatment of Diabetes and Their Implications for Health Information Exchange: Claims-Based Analysis

Background: Health information exchange (HIE) among care providers who cooperate in the treatment of patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) has been rated as an important aspect of successful care. Patient-sharing relations among care providers permit inferences about corresponding information-sharing relations.

Objectives: This study aimed to obtain information for an effective HIE platform design to be used in DM care by analyzing patient-sharing relations among various types of care providers (ToCPs), such as hospitals, pharmacies, and different outpatient specialists, within a nationwide claims dataset of Austrian DM patients. We focus on 2 parameters derived from patient-sharing networks: (1) the principal HIE partners of the different ToCPs involved in the treatment of DM and (2) the required participation rate of ToCPs in HIE platforms for the purpose of effective communication.

Methods: The claims data of 7.9 million Austrian patients from 2006 to 2007 served as our data source. DM patients were identified by their medication. We established metrics for the quantification of our 2 parameters of interest. The principal HIE partners were derived from the portions of a care provider’s patient-sharing relations with different ToCPs. For the required participation rate of ToCPs in an HIE platform, we determine the concentration of patient-sharing relations among ToCPs. Our corresponding metrics are derived in analogy from existing work for the quantification of the continuity of care.

Results: We identified 324,703 DM patients treated by 12,226 care providers; the latter were members of 16 ToCPs. On the basis of their score for 2 of our parameters, we categorized the ToCPs into low, medium, and high. For the most important HIE partner parameter, pharmacies, general practitioners (GPs), and laboratories were the representatives of the top group, that is, our care providers shared the highest numbers of DM patients with these ToCPs. For the required participation rate of type of care provide (ToCP) in HIE platform parameter, the concentration of DM patient-sharing relations with a ToCP tended to be inversely related to the ToCPs member count.

Conclusions: We conclude that GPs, pharmacies, and laboratories should be core members of any HIE platform that supports DM care, as they are the most important DM patient-sharing partners. We further conclude that, for implementing HIE with ToCPs who have many members (in Austria, particularly GPs and pharmacies), an HIE solution with high participation rates from these ToCPs (ideally a nationwide HIE platform with obligatory participation of the concerned ToCPs) seems essential. This will raise the probability of HIE being achieved with any care provider of these ToCPs. As chronic diseases are rising because of aging societies, we believe that our quantification of HIE requirements in the treatment of DM can provide valuable insights for many industrial countries.



G. Duftschmid, […] P. Klimek, et al., Patient-Sharing Relations in the Treatment of Diabetes and Their Implications for Health Information Exchange: Claims-Based Analysis, JMIR Med Inform 7(2) (2019) e12172


Peter Klimek, Faculty member at the Complexity Science Hub

Peter Klimek

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