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Health Information Exchange: What’s the Motivation?

HIE [1] Series. Part 1 of 6.

Part 2: Architecture Types [2]
Part 3: Despite Momentum, HIE Sustainability a Concern [3]
Part 4: The Building Blocks of HIEs: A Glossary of Terms [4]
Part 5: HIE Communication Methods [5]
Part 6: HIE Physician and Patient Portals [6]

Now that the majority of innovative healthcare organizations have invested the capital, the time and the effort to install electronic medical records, many are looking to fully leverage the technology by connecting to a health information exchange, or HIE.

According to eHealth Initiative’s “2011 Report on Health Information Exchange: FAQs,” there were 255 HIEs in 2011, an increase of 9% from 2010. A majority (70%) of existing HIEs are private, yet just 24 total claim to be sustainable.

See: Forward-Looking Organizations are Connecting to HIEs to Improve Care [7]

There are several reasons why HIEs are a logical “next step” for health providers who have implemented EMR [8] systems, including qualifying for Meaningful Use or serving as a precursor – or “test case” – for connecting to a future Accountable Care Organization. Whatever the motivation, both examples can mean significant revenue for the organization:

HIEs also have the potential to provide cost savings to connected organizations in the forms of increased productivity, avoidance of duplicate medical procedures, and the resulting shared savings as a result ofpayment by episode of care.

While revenue or a positive return on investment is always the key motivator for organizations to make costly business moves such as installing EMRs or paying to connect to HIEs, the good news for patients – which includes everyone – is that both Meaningful Use requirements and ACOs share a common end result – improving the quality of patient care.

The argument whether or not HIEs or ACOs are the proper way to improve the patient experience are best left for political blogs. The reality for health IT professionals is that HIEs are forming in every state, yet there is uncertainty about the different forms of HIEs and what challenges health organizations likely will face when trying to exchange data within a HIE.

I hope to help address these topics in future articles in this six-part HIE blog series. Themes of future posts will include:

Part 1: Health Information Exchange: What’s the Motivation? [12]
Part 2: Architecture Types [2]
Part 3: Despite Momentum, HIE Sustainability a Concern [3]
Part 4: The Building Blocks of HIEs: A Glossary of Terms [4]
Part 5: HIE Communication Methods [5]
Part 6: HIE Physician and Patient Portals [6]

 

 

Additional Resources

  1. Round Table on HIE Connectivity: Real Experiences with Health Information Exchanges [13]
  2. EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup Releases Technical Specifications [14]
  3. Meaningful Use, EHR Certification, & Healthcare Integration [15]