Toward Health Information Exchange
Policy and technical limitations are pushing providers to choose HIE systems that lack universal integration.
This article first appeared in the September 2014 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
Providers are taking many paths—some public but, more and more, private—toward electronic health information exchange.
Despite more than $500 million being spent over the past five years by the federal government to promote HIE, many states have no HIE today, forcing providers to turn to regional or private HIE organizations to realize the benefits of such information exchange.
Those organizations include such entities as Healtheway, descendent of the federal government's Nationwide Health Information Network Exchange; NATE, the National Association for Trusted Exchange, which is attempting to link all state-level HIEs across the United States; and the CommonWell Health Alliance, a vendor-based not-for-profit consortium (of which Epic is not a member). There also is a growing number of EHR vendor-specific HIE networks, such as Epic's Care Everywhere.
CommonWell, which began extensive testing of its patient record locator service this year, has received considerable attention. Among the healthcare providers CommonWell approached last fall was Palmetto Health, a 1,138-bed system with more than 8,400 employees and 1,000 physicians, based in Columbia, South Carolina. Palmetto Health uses the Cerner EHR, which has been modified to support health information exchange with other EHRs supporting CommonWell.