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Health Information Exchange, A Medical Necessity

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Health information exchange (HIE) covers the complete spectrum of clinical integration, where all healthcare-related data are shared among facilities, health information organizations and agencies.

It is a method of creating networked medical records that would not be lost during any major emergency.

Technology has helped us to make use of use of electronic medical records and e-prescribing to enable medical providers to understand complete medical history of every patient anytime and anywhere. The aim is to improve efficiency in the healthcare system, and to a great extent, reduce the friction that currently exists when a patient moves from one healthcare provider to another. Experts believe that clinical interoperability, whether at the local, regional or state level, can lower the costs of healthcare delivery.

HIE allows healthcare providers to share and access critical health information to eventually enhance healthcare quality and outcomes, patient safety and reduce health disparities and medical errors.

Any efficiently developed by HIE should enable bi-directional integration between practice and hospital medical records as well as interoperability with other physicians’ records or outside systems. Here, even patients should also be able to integrate their medical histories with a personal health record.

The process of HIE implementation generally begins with workflow redesign. Healthcare providers are constantly faced with challenges that include; collecting and entering data in a structured formats, establishing effective workflows to reinforce data entry, involve a provider in adopting HER, initiate e-prescribing, managing clinical decision support, implementing patient health information exchange workflows, ensure privacy and security compliance.

The success of health information exchange) implementation will depend on local markets and its perceived value to that locality.

HIE can be public, private or domain. A regional health information organization (RH RH IO) is a type of public HIE. There are many organizations that have their own private HIEs to support provider affinity programs and improve referrals. For example, Laboratories create private HIEs to offer electronic access to laboratory results for clinicians. Domain specific HIEs on the other hand, are said to share information related to a particular element of healthcare. For example, an internet provider portal offering access to lab results can be termed as a domain specific HIE.

HIEs are further classified into three models which includes; centralized, federated and hybrid.

A centralized HIE is an architecture, where information is collected from participating organizations and stored in a centralized place to provide access. A Federated HIE allows each participating organization to retain control of their healthcare information and deliver information when requested. A hybrid HIE stores some information centrally and also takes other information by requesting queries to involved organizations.

Immense Chance to HIE Market

Analysts predict that the health information exchange market will dramatically change during the next two years as providers are trying to match to the growing demand for electronic health records systems that support data exchange.

Several states are currently working on development of HIEs and are in various stages of adoption. While everyone agrees that exchanging patient data is a good thing, the main challenge lies in cost, safety and reliability. With progress in adopting Health Information Technology, we can believe that significant barriers will slowly diminish and a more efficient process in the health IT will be adopted.

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