HIEs Struggle with Sustainability

Anthony Brino | Government Health IT | July 11, 2013

More providers than ever are participating in health information exchanges, at the same time that a majority of HIE organizations are struggling to find sustainable business models, a new study has found.

About 30 percent of hospitals and 10 percent of ambulatory practices are now participating in one of the 119 operational HIEs across the country, while 74 percent of HIEs surveyed report long-term funding challenges, a group of researchers led by the University of Michigan’s Julia Adler-Milstein found in a study published in Health Affairs.

Some $548 million in the HITECH Act was devoted to offering startup funding to HIEs, which have filled gaps in EHR interoperability. But with that money set to run out by the end of the year, “the organizations haven't figured out how to fund themselves,” Adler-Millstein said in a media release.


Let the Market Forces Prevail

Through the HITECH Act government funding has helped with the startup of many Health Information Exchanges (HIE) across the country. As a result, lots of people and organizations are now aware of the many potential benefits of an HIE over the long term for healthcare in the country. But as the federal government funding starts to dry up, its time to let free market forces prevail. Who knows what innovative technologies and business models will emerge to help create and sustain HIE networks into the future. Remember the banking industry ATM networks and how they evolved without government funding? Lets see what happens in the healthcare industry.