Health Information Exchange Drives Industry Towards Interoperability

The two-year war against COVID-19 and its variants has highlighted the importance of health data. Health data, primarily collected and provided by Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) across the country, has helped hospitals, government agencies, and other stakeholders track geographic and demographic data on the status of the pandemic and vaccination.

Unfortunately, some health data gaps throughout the pandemic have also revealed where system-wide holes need to be filled.although Nearly 9 out of 10 office physicians Having adopted electronic health records — driven in large part by a $35 billion investment in the 2009 HITECH program — many health systems still cannot easily share records with other health systems. With our existing technology, there is no good reason to “store” this information — especially when data connectivity holds great promise in improving the quality of care, preventing medical errors, reducing healthcare costs, and facilitating patient-centered care.

While the industry as a whole has met or exceeded the goals set by the Office of the National Information Technology Coordinator in 2004, much remains to be done.Here’s why we’re calling on health leaders to devote more energy and resources interoperability And the secure and seamless transfer of health data.

Interoperability is critical to future success

In short, the more provider organizations and other entities that share health data, the better. To achieve the long-sought vision of comprehensive interoperability, healthcare leaders should follow the lead of federal agencies.

Last year, ONC released a 10 Year Vision Achieving a truly interoperable health IT infrastructure, with a focus on value-based care. ONC encourages all stakeholders to increase interoperability and functionality as needed, strive for a baseline that best meets user needs, support payment and delivery reforms, implement simplified solutions, and protect privacy in all aspects of interoperability and safety.

How HIE “walks the talk”

While federal policy provides strong incentives for healthcare providers to jump on the interoperability bandwagon, more healthcare IT organizations are exploring ways to share knowledge and processes while benefiting from greater efficiencies.

Over the past five years, more than 10 HIEs have been integrated through various avenues; including mergers, joint ventures and shared services agreements. Much of this integration occurs in states with multiple HIE participants. As healthcare observers know, this is in line with broader consolidation within the industry, as community hospitals become part of local health systems and those systems join regional and national systems.

Examples of HIE integration and collaboration can be found in Indiana (Indiana Health Information Exchange and Michigan Health Information Network), Nebraska and Iowa (CncHealth and CncHealth Iowa) and Maryland, District of Columbia, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Alaska (CRISP Shared Services)Additionally, BeyondHIE was recently established as a joint venture by the Utah Health Information Network (UHIN), the Idaho Health Data Clearinghouse, Comagine Health and a health IT vendor.In the west, Colorado-based CORHIO and Arizona-based Health Current merge in 2021 under a regional umbrella weave.

Recently, the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC) joined forces with the Regional Network for Healthcare Improvement (NRHI) to form Civitas Health Network, an organization that intends to strengthen existing data and interoperability infrastructure. Civitas represents more than 100 regional and statewide organizations in 45 states.

How integration benefits health and care

Just as health IT organizations benefit from collaboration, interoperability will help the healthcare industry move in a positive direction by breaking down the aforementioned health data silos—ultimately giving patients, providers, and communities a better longitudinal understanding of multiple health factors, thereby Improve health.

This trend also strengthens the role of nonprofit, multi-stakeholder organizations as community data trustees by securely sharing and managing health data. HIE has a huge role in bridging the gap between the public and private sectors that provide different types of healthcare services. Potential – including testing, admission and discharge and transfer data, laboratory results and radiological images. Shared health data also holds great promise in helping communities identify and analyze social determinants of health — factors that directly and indirectly influence outcomes.

As privacy and security are absolutely paramount in the transfer of health data, HIEs share a commitment to ensuring that their processes comply with key regulatory and industry-defined requirements. To date, many HIEs have achieved HITRUST certification status to manage risk and prevent security breaches.

Like other essential utilities such as water and electricity, the data provided by HIE plays a vital role in an individual’s life. Through continued collaboration, innovation, and public and private support, interoperability of health data will demonstrate a life-saving value proposition that extends beyond the walls of healthcare facilities.

As we know, when it comes to healthcare, epidemics know no borders, nor do data.

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