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3 Traits Shared By Successful HIEs

Health information exchange executives reveal how they keep their HIEs alive and well, in new IDC report.

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Successful health information exchanges (HIEs)—ones that have passed their initial birthing pains and are fully operational—share three key traits, a new IDC report shows. Effective HIEs have strong stakeholder involvement to achieve critical mass of data sources; trust among the participating partners; and a plan for sustainability.

Best Practices: Establishing Sustainable Health Information Exchange relied on interviews with 45 executives from enterprise, regional, and statewide HIE organizations, who shared their experiences as part of the IDC MarketScape for Health Information Exchange Technologies research.

Among the report's key findings:

-- As healthcare organizations work toward an accountable care model, they will need HIE capabilities to facilitate patient-centric care collaboration.

[ Most of the largest healthcare data security and privacy breaches have involved lost or stolen mobile computing devices. For possible solutions, see 7 Tools To Tighten Healthcare Data Security]

-- Health information organizations (HIOs) must work closely with stakeholders and communicate well to obtain their trust, which will be essential for a successful outcome.

-- HIOs should realize that resolving privacy and security issues takes longer than resolving technology issues. Therefore organizations should not delay the planning and implementation process if they want to maximize their chances of receiving federal EHR incentives.

The survey reveals that HIE executives are much more likely to see sustainability as an important part of their planning than they once did, according to Lynne Dunbrack, analyst at IDC Health Insights, and the report's author.

"Health information exchange executives are more focused now on planning for how they will sustain their exchanges after the grants run out. I think that that's one of the key takeaways," Dunbrack said.

She also emphasized that what the HIE wants to do could affect the type of health information technology tools its executives select.

"If an HIE is establishing an exchange for clinical messaging, they are going to look at one set of vendors. If the HIE is focused on population health management, it will look for vendors that have strong data warehousing and clinical data repository technologies, can normalize that data, and have strong business intelligence and analytics tools that they can use in conjunction with that data," Dunbrack said.

To successfully manage data, HIOs in the early planning stages need to develop an inventory of what data is available electronically and what is not, the report's executives advised. This will help HIOs better understand how data will flow across the participants. Given the complexity of multiple data feeds, closely monitoring patient data is especially important, said the executives. Even if the HIE is using technology that involves a cloud or hosted model, it should still get involved in managing and monitoring the data feeds.

For organizations that want to establish enterprise or community HIEs, the report suggests that health IT managers and stakeholders understand the clinical, business, and technical requirements needed for the HIE before identifying potential solutions and conducting a vendor search. Healthcare organizations also should conduct a gap analysis that compares meeting the criteria for Meaningful Use Stage 2 with its own IT plans to determine how implementing HIE technologies can fill those gaps.

Additionally, providers need to link disparate systems within the enterprise, connect with community-based physicians, and provide patients with secure access to their own health information, said the report.

The 2012 InformationWeek Healthcare IT Priorities Survey finds that grabbing federal incentive dollars and meeting pay-for-performance mandates are the top issues facing IT execs. Find out more in the new, all-digital Time To Deliver issue of InformationWeek Healthcare. (Free registration required.)

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