Healthcare leaders find that one of the benefits of the eHealth Exchange is the single data use and reciprocal support agreement.
This article first appeared in the September 2016 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
As other health information exchange methods struggle to gain nationwide traction, one method, which originated in the federal government, and replaces lengthy negotiations between providers with a standardized data-sharing agreement, continues to gain adherents.
The eHealth Exchange started its operational life in 2009 as the Nationwide Health Information Network, sponsored by the Office of the National Coordinator. In 2012, NHIN became the eHealth Exchange, and its governance came under the management of the Sequoia Project, formerly known as Healtheway.
By using agreed-upon standards from HL7 and other industry organizations, and support already built into much electronic health record software, the eHealth Exchange provides a way for clinicians to query for records on given patients from around the network, and use the network as a secure way to send and receive Continuity of Care Documents to other nodes on the network.
One benefit of the eHealth Exchange: a single, agreed-on set of rules of the road—a data use and reciprocal support agreement that all participants abide by. Such agreements, when hammered out two health organizations at a time, make for very slow going to advance interoperability at scale.
A major implementation of eHealth Exchange crystallized recently when Intel Corporation, seeking to control its own employees' healthcare costs and increase employee convenience, launched its Connected Care initiative for its employees, and began requiring providers to join eHealth Exchange as a way to move patient records to and from local clinics, including Intel Health for Life clinics available on-site at its company campuses.
Intel Corporation, which self-insures its 50,000 U.S. employees and their 80,000 dependents through several national plans, spends approximately $680 million annually on healthcare benefits.
Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.