Care Transitions as Opportunities for Clinicians to Use Data Exchange Service

How Often Do They Occur?

Published In: JAMIA, Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, v. 18, no. 6, Nov. 2011, p. 853-858

Posted on on November 01, 2011

by Robert S. Rudin, Claudia A. Salzberg, Peter Szolovits, Lynn A. Volk, Steven Simon, David W. Bates

Read More

Access further information on this document at

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

BACKGROUND: The electronic exchange of health information among healthcare providers has the potential to produce enormous clinical benefits and financial savings, although realizing that potential will be challenging. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will reward providers for 'meaningful use' of electronic health records, including participation in clinical data exchange, but the best ways to do so remain uncertain. METHODS: We analyzed patient visits in one community in which a high proportion of providers were using an electronic health record and participating in data exchange. Using claims data from one large private payer for individuals under age 65 years, we computed the number of visits to a provider which involved transitions in care from other providers as a percentage of total visits. We calculated this 'transition percentage' for individual providers and medical groups. RESULTS: On average, excluding radiology and pathology, approximately 51% of visits involved care transitions between individual providers in the community and 36%–41% involved transitions between medical groups. There was substantial variation in transition percentage across medical specialties, within specialties and across medical groups. Specialists tended to have higher transition percentages and smaller ranges within specialty than primary care physicians, who ranged from 32% to 95% (including transitions involving radiology and pathology). The transition percentages of pediatric practices were similar to those of adult primary care, except that many transitions occurred among pediatric physicians within a single medical group. CONCLUSIONS: Care transition patterns differed substantially by type of practice and should be considered in designing incentives to foster providers' meaningful use of health data exchange services.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.