Since its birth more than 30 years ago, Health Information Exchange has changed dramatically. During the early days of the Community Health Information Network, the HIE was built on the principle that a patient’s longitudinal record would be available at the point of care. The goal was for using aggregated clinical data to lead to better patient outcomes. Makes sense!

Today, the modern HIE is shaped by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which created incentives for “the electronic movement and use of health information among organizations using nationally recognized interoperability standards.” This was a high priority for healthcare professionals and government health programs: The HITECH Act provided $564 million to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to enable rapid development of HIE across the nation.

With the need for easier patient data exchange a higher priority than ever, there now exists the need to standardize the data being exchanged. While not a new story, recent advances in standards are accelerating interoperability goals. In addition, the ONC wants to ensure that patient data is moving the needle from volume to value. That is,  the current national measurement for interoperability is “impactful external data in the user’s workflow.” According to a recent study by the eHealth Initiative, respondents find interoperability expedites access to externally sourced patient data such as lab reports and clinically relevant documents. “According to the survey, 75 percent of respondents believe technology has increased healthcare quality, while 32 percent believe that technology has helped decrease healthcare costs since 2008.”

So where do the real benefits of the modern day HIE come into play?

  1. Better population health, better outcomes

According to KLAS, an interoperability “Home Run” means access to outside records, which are easy to locate, within the clinician workflow, effectively delivered, in a way that facilitates improved patient care.

Providing better patient care starts with your technology and IT infrastructure working efficiently and meaningfully, in alignment with your organization’s goals. With risk-based reimbursements driving the industry, it’s a major goal to identify patient risk early and consistently among community healthcare providers.

2. Data availability

Access to Protected Health Information (PHI) in real time within the provider workflow is critical to deliver quality patient care…plus it’s the goal of the HIE. Providers want HIEs to deliver more capabilities to help prioritize and better coordinate patient interactions and outreach in a cost-effective, efficient way. The modern HIE also delivers access to information from non-traditional sources such as medical devices and wearables. The ability to connect to data ecosystems beyond your four walls is critical to both your organization’s ability to scale up, and your patient population’s well-being.

3. Improved security

Sharing clinical and financial data requires security. Being part of a trusted community entity managing summary records of patient data provides an additional safety net when backup and recovery are compromised during a security breach. During a recent ransomware attack on one of its member hospitals, HEALTHeLINK provided critical help. When the hospital shut down the EHR, care providers were able to access patient data through HEALTHeLINK. Of course it’s vital to stay vigilant against ransomware attacks, so listen to a recent webinar we hosted about data protection.

Our team will be in full force this August at the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC) conference. Visit us at our table and let’s talk interoperability!