HIE Adoption Still Poses Challenges, But Progress Abounds

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Competing timelines to meet federal requirements, complex systems integration, uncertainties surrounding accountable care organizations (ACOs), and other issues continue to pose challenges to the adoption of health information exchanges (HIEs). However, progress is indeed being made, reveals a recent survey of 225 HIEs by the eHealth Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to driving improvements in the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare through information and IT. In addition to struggling with business models and value, groups say they are facing new challenges related to technical aspects and systems integration. Offsetting 9% growth in the number of HIE initiatives, which currently total 255, the survey shows that at least 10 such entities have closed or consolidated. On the flip side, 46 new initiatives responded to the survey, and 24 initiatives cite sustainable business models, up from 18 in 2010. Some initiatives are developing complex privacy controls for patients, even in the absence of new federal requirements. Moreover, despite uncertainty about (ACOs), 25% of HIEs surveyed report that they will support an ACO model. A majority of initiatives (113) plan to incorporate the federal Nationwide Health Information Network’s (NwHIN) Direct Project into their service offerings, and the majority of advanced initiatives (85) are offering at least one service that supports meaningful use requirements. “Some exchanges have solved their technical issues and are offering more advanced services, such as analytics, quality reporting, wellness programs, and education to providers and hospitals," states eHealth Iniative CEO Jennifer Covich Bordenick. "As a result, they are in a much stronger position than those that have not expanded services. HIE initiatives that cannot adapt quickly may not last long in a transformed healthcare system." Moreover, Covich Bordenick asserts, “the number of initiatives offering services that improve patient care has increased in 2011. As more HIE initiatives provide services such as e-prescribing, alerts to providers on drug interactions, clinical decision support, and medication reconciliation, the quality of care for patients will improve.” Covich Bordenick concedes that the HIE marketplace is currently very competitive. However, she notes, “the momentum seems to be with private sector HIEs." To read the press release, click here: http://www.ehealthinitiative.org/about-us/press/press-releases/647-new-n....