Report: HIEs Continue To Face Challenges to Data Sharing

December 31, 2014 in News

Health information exchanges need a “critical mass of data available” to prove useful for providers, but many HIEs still are struggling with data sharing, according to a new report presented to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, Modern Healthcare reports.

Details of Report

The report includes six case studies performed by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. The study examined HIE programs in:

  • Iowa;
  • Mississippi;
  • New Hampshire;
  • Utah;
  • Vermont; and
  • Wyoming (Tahir, Modern Healthcare, 12/30).

Researchers also interviewed more than 100 stakeholders for the report (Gold, Politico Pro, 12/29).

The HIEs are funded under the HITECH Act. Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Health IT Buzz, 12/29).

Findings

Overall, researchers found that the success of HIEs depends on whether states have set achievable goals and can ensure constant communication among participants (Politico Pro, 12/29).

In addition, the report found that:

  • Differences in state demographics and resources determine how HIEs are used, and what works for one state may not necessarily work for another;
  • HIE participants must collaborate to provide support for the HIEs; and
  • States are using various policy and legislative levers to advance interoperability and increase data exchange (Health IT Buzz, 12/29).

The report also noted that without an abundance of shareable information, providers will question the value of HIEs. For example, Iowa, Utah and Vermont struggled with that problem, according to the report.

The report stated, “Even when more data becomes available in the future, [officials] fear the users who have been disappointed previously will not bother to return to use the system.”

Researchers also found that several of the state HIEs have struggled with the quality of their data, and a lack of quality information can adversely affect patient care and stakeholder utilization of the HIEs, according to Modern Healthcare.

Some states, such as Utah, are investing in patient-matching technology to ensure the quality of health data.

The report noted that the federal government needs to do more to facilitate the free flow of data. For example, the federal government should:

  • Create standards for a fluid transfer of information; and
  • Encourage EHR developers to develop systems that are interoperable with HIEs (Modern Healthcare, 12/30).
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