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Top 9 Health IT Stories Of 2011

2011 was a challenging year for healthcare IT professionals. Providers rolled out electronic health record systems to qualify for the government's Meaningful Use financial incentives. Meanwhile, mobile health apps took off, e-prescribing increased, health info exchanges got a start, and some organizations suffered data breaches. On the plus side, more health IT jobs became available.
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The number of health information exchanges (HIEs) in the U.S. in 2011--thanks in large part to HITECH Act grants and other funding--soared to more than 200. Although there was impressive growth and success, sustainability continued to be an issue for many HIEs once initial funding was gone.

Some HIEs consolidated in 2011 and others folded. Among those closing shop was CareSpark, a regional HIE in Tennessee, and the Minnesota Health Information Exchange; the latter merged with the Community Health Information Collaborative.

Late in 2011, seven states, eight electronic health record (EHR) vendors, and three HIE providers agreed to support interoperability standards that also could make health data exchange easier nationally.

The standards are the result of a workgroup originally launched in April by the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC). The other members of the group are HIEs in six other states--California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Oregon.

The group's larger vision is for a set of technical standards to gain support from other states and EHR and HIE product vendors to help in the country's loftier goal of a nationwide health data exchange.

Among the vendors supporting the standards are EHR providers Allscripts, eClinicalWorks, e-MDs, Greenway Medical Technologies, McKesson Physician Practice Solutions, NextGen Healthcare, Sage Healthcare Division, and Siemens Healthcare. Three HIE services vendors also are participating: Axolotl, InterSystems, and Medicity.

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