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09:41 AM

Consultants Play Bigger Role In Public Health Information Exchanges

CSC and Impact Advisors are early leaders in KLAS's report on HIE IT systems integrators, staffers, and technical advisers.

8 Health Information Exchanges Lead The Way
8 Health Information Exchanges Lead The Way
(click image for larger for slideshow)
As health information exchanges begin to develop an IT infrastructure to support the electronic sharing of patient records among health delivery organizations, KLAS has found that 60% of public HIEs are engaging third-party consultants, compared with 40% of private HIEs.

KLAS's "HIE Consulting: Leveraging Third-Party Expertise for HIE Success" report evaluates health IT consultancy firms providing assistance with systems integration, advisory work, staff augmentation, and technical support to the burgeoning HIE market.

The report noted that more public HIEs are courting third-party consultants because they need help navigating the complexity of government regulations that require data standards for the electronic exchange of clinical data among providers. KLAS researchers also found that public HIEs need assistance in a variety of areas--everything from preparing the paperwork to apply for public funds, to coordinating participating public HIE stakeholders. Private HIEs, however, did not require as much assistance because they are privately sponsored entities with less government involvement.

According to KLAS's definition, private HIEs typically are based around one or more integrated delivery networks (IDNs) or large hospital organizations banding together to pull in community practices. The majority of their funding and governance comes from private entities.

By comparison, public HIEs encompass specific regions and involve multiple hospital-based organizations. The majority of their funding and governance comes through government entities, such as state HIEs.

"There's a lot of complexity that comes with creating a public HIE," Erik Westerlind, the report's author, said in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare. "Providers need to sort out who will have access to patient data, they want to know where the data will reside, and what security policies should be put in place."

[ Are you paid what you're worth? See Health IT Pros Face Salary Gap. ]

KLAS based its findings on interviews with executives at 27 healthcare delivery organizations participating in HIE development. These health organizations are engaging firms such as Accenture, CSC, CTG, Deloitte, Harris, Impact Advisors, J2, maxIT, Peer Consulting, PwC, Orchestrate, Vitalize, and Xerox--all companies that are included in the research.

Providers also describe the work their consultants perform for them, including strategic, operational, regulatory, hosting, and IT outsourcing work, as well as how the vendors perform. The report describes the scope of services provided, specializations offered, and the depth and breadth of HIE experience, which distinguish some vendors from others.

Several key findings of the report include:

-- Impact Advisors and CSC are the two early leaders in the HIE consulting market. KLAS found Impact Advisors to be the only fully rated vendor providing HIE advisory and technical work, while CSC is the only option for HIE hosting and managed services.

-- Ninety-six percent of providers reported benefits from engaging their third-party firms.

-- Fifty-five percent of executives interviewed said they chose their HIE consulting service based on trust and because they had worked with the vendor before.

-- To gain an advantage, some firms have begun to join forces to bring their diverse skills and expertise to HIE projects. For example, KLAS verified a partnership between Orchestrate and Medicity, and a number of other relationships appear to be emerging.

In related news, earlier this month the Obama administration approved $17 million to help establish Massachusetts' statewide HIE, which will allow providers, hospitals, and other health delivery organizations to exchange clinical data via a secure statewide network.

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