Has the foundation for interoperability between HIEs been established?
Healthcare Informatics – It was quite interesting to read a recent evaluation of the Vermont Health Information Exchange (VHIE), which found governance and data quality issues, as well as low usage rates. As Senior Contributing Editor David Raths reported, “Only 19 percent of Vermont patients’ records are currently accessible in VHIE, and statistics show providers generally use VHIE for limited purposes.” It was also noteworthy to read in that story that the organization that operates VHIE agrees with the evaluation and “believes the state should undertake a comprehensive realignment of the governance and delivery of its health information technology and exchange initiatives statewide.”
More broadly, research on the value of health information exchanges (HIEs) to date has been mixed and unclear. One study, published recently in Information Systems Research, concluded that HIEs do have the potential to cut billions in Medicare spending, but the key being that the healthcare market must have an established HIE infrastructure in place. In reality, many markets do not. Then there is the issue that it has been challenging for researchers to even come to real conclusions on the impact of HIEs. A recent paper published by healthcare researchers found that slowness in implementation and usage makes it difficult to measure their effectiveness.
But despite a lot of the negativity surrounding HIEs—and the many challenges that they face—a fairly new initiative from the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC) has gotten me thinking that the narrative around HIEs, and specifically HIE-to-HIE exchange, might soon be shifting.