HIE: What’s in a name?

July 10, 2015 in Medical Technology

Whither HIE? It depends how you define it. Health information exchanges (pl. noun) have clearly gone through some fairly transformative changes these past few years. Health information exchange (verb) has too. But both, to different degrees, continue to be essential to the evolution of healthcare.

We spoke recently with Mari Greenberger, director of informatics at HIMSS, for her perspective on the current state of HIE across the industry – and her thoughts on what we can expect next.

‘Network of networks’ is the shape of the future

At HIMSS15 Health Information Exchange Symposium in Chicago this past spring, Greenberger said she noticed a big theme emerging: “The network of network concept was pretty prevalent,” she said.

“How we’re defining HIE the verb is variable,” Greenberger explained. “You have eHealth Exchange, which is a hub and spoke, very much focusing on being an entity, a noun, and connecting all the various other nouns across the country using HIE the verb.

Then there are organizations such as the CommonWell Health Alliance – health systems with specific electronic health records connecting with health systems that use different EHRs – “where, again, it’s a network of network type concept, but it’s vendors,” she says.

That’s another approach that allows vendors to gain marketshare “while also sending a strong signal that they’ll play well together,” says Greenberger. “It’s another avenue to further health information exchange, but still another concept of network of networks.”

Some folks out there are doing some really innovative stuff

Greenberger points to several innovative data exchange projects she’s heard about recently, such as the one at New Jersey’s Hunterdon Healthcare System, which is better integrating its patient portal with its HIE capabilities.

[See also: CMIO: Patient portal a 'source of truth']

Fellmeth spoke at HIMSS15 about better leveraging HIE for consumer engagement, viewing it as critical tool for gathering patient data and supporting patient-centric tools such as social networks, gaming and more.

David Watson, CEO of California Integrated Data Exchange (Cal INDEX) was another inspiring speaker at the HIE Symposium, said Greenberger: “He brought some real advice for working with payers, and advice for getting the information moving and providing value-add to stakeholders.”?

Likewise, she points to Kansas Health Information Network, which “has been doing a lot to broaden their tent – as it relates to behavioral health and LTPACs.”

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