The Status of Health Information Exchange (HIE) Networks in the U.S.

The "2012 Report on Health Information Exchange" analyzes the latest results from the Annual Survey of Health Information Exchange (HIE) conducted by the eHealth Initiative (eHI) organization. It provides an overview of how HIE networks are supporting healthcare reform at a local, regional, and national level.

Since 2004, eHealth Initiative (eHI) has fielded a comprehensive survey assessing the current state of health information exchange (HIE) within the U.S.  Over the years, this survey has grown from one that examined the nascent stages of HIE, into one that provides insight into the overall progress and growth of health information technology (HIT) and HIE networks across the country.

Some of the key findings from the 2012 survey that caught our attention include the following:

• The number of local Health Information Exchange (HIE) initiatives within states is continuing to climb.
• As 2012 came to a close, some HIE networks have ceased operations, merged with other efforts, even as many new local HIE initiatives have started to emerge.
• Sustainability remains one of the most critical issues faced by health information exchange initiatives.
• Federal and state funding is still supporting many of the advanced HIE initiatives.
• A number of HIE initiatives have achieved a sustainable business model that is not dependent upon federal funding.
• HIE networks that have begun transmitting data are most likely to have stakeholders contributing revenue.
• A majority of operational HIE projects stated that fees paid by participants was the most viable business model.
• The expanding reach of HIE initiatives has also begun to attract and integrate new stakeholders, e.g. mental health and long-term care providers.
• Use and support of the Direct Project standards-based protocols is increasing.

The Direct Project provides for an easy-to-use, secure, and scalable method of sending encrypted and authenticated health information over the internet. The project aims to alleviate the need to build EHR-specific custom interfaces due to the lack of interoperability between EHR systems.

• HIE networks have evolved to exchange additional types of data and value-add services beyond the immediate functionalities required of basic HIE solutions.
• HIE functionality has continued to improve and evolve to now include bidirectional exchange od data - the ability to both “push” and “pull” information.
• The U.S. healthcare system has been slow to adopt electronic data exchange, despite its many benefits.

Achieving the vision of a National Health Information Network (NHIN) for the U.S. continues to unfold. With the agreement on a national plan and standards, it only seemed logical that the NHIN 'network of networks' would start to emerge starting with local HIE solutions that would then merge into statewide HIEs, and ultimately evolve into a nationwide HIE.  By 2020, we should finally achieve the vision of building a National Health Information Network (NHIN) for the U.S.

Check out some of the many other news articles and information about Health Information Exchange & the NHIN published by Open Health News over the past year.