10 Years of HIEs: Significant Progress, but Uncertain Future

Ten years after the creation of the ONC and five years after the passage of the HITECH Act, the country has made significant progress in enabling healthcare providers to exchange patient information. Now, questions remain on how to best continue the nation's push toward interoperability and widespread data exchange, according to a report from the California HealthCare Foundation.

Enabling data exchange has been a policy goal of the ONC since its inception. Over the past decade, the agency has worked to develop a set of flexible, responsive interoperability standards to guide the industry toward greater exchange ability. The federal government, along with the states, have also made investments in developing health information exchange infrastructures.

On the provider side, the meaningful use incentive program has spurred healthcare organizations to adopt electronic health records with data exchange capabilities and develop and/or join HIEs. Payment reform and alternative reimbursement models, such as accountable care organizations, have made data exchange increasingly necessary to maximize reimbursements.

While the journey to robust data exchange may have taken longer than originally anticipated, progress has been made. However, several questions remain regarding the future of HIEs, especially as HITECH funding begins to decline and providers struggle with meaningful use:

  • Will a national governance mechanism be implemented?
  • How will interstate data exchange be facilitated/managed?
  • Will more regulations be required to ensure providers don't stifle data exchange to further their own financial interests?
  • What can be done to ensure providers continue to invest and be invested in health information exchange?

More Articles on HIEs:

Report: Provider Satisfaction With HIE Solutions Has Dropped
Care Connectivity Consortium Adds OCHIN as 6th Member
Health IT Investors Lobby New York State to Continue Funding for Statewide HIE

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