HIE Networks proved their worth in 2012

Anthony Brino | PhysBizTech | December 21, 2012

In 2012, in the United States and elsewhere, dozens of health information exchanges (HIEs) and HIE technologies blossomed. Health organizations made advances in population health management, biomedical research and transparency; insurers bought HIEs as part of their accountable care programs; and health information networks served as a key public utility in times of natural disaster.

When Hurricane Sandy flooded large swaths of New York City in late October, the Statewide Health Information Network of New York (SHIN-NY) functioned more or less undisturbed, fostering a smooth continuity of care at hospitals receiving patients evacuated from Manhattan. "We're not having to do anything boots-on-the-street explicit," SHIN-NY executive director David Whitlinger said at the time. "That's the power of the virtual network.

Just as the new risks posed by extreme weather events have been leading some engineers to consider new infrastructure designs more resilient to the 100-year storms, officials at the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) are hoping healthcare systems and state governments can put together HIE contingency plans in the event of large-scale evacuations, like those seen in the South after Hurricane Katrina and in New Jersey and New York after Sandy.