Health Information Exchanges Improve Efficiency

Complying with government mandates, developing viable business model are top concerns of HIEs, finds eHealth Initiative.

Image Gallery: African Hospital Digitizes Medical Records
(click for larger image and for full photo gallery)
Additionally, patient engagement has increased dramatically with more organizations providing services and data access to patients through a HIE. According to the report, 44 initiatives allow patients to view their data, up from three in 2009, and 31 initiatives allow patients to contribute information on their health status, up from seven in 2009.

Initiatives are also developing measures that address security and privacy. More organizations are creating systems which allow patients to control the level of access to their information. The report's findings were that 61 initiatives have global opt-in/out policies, 36 have organizational opt-in/out policies, 34 have provider opt-in/out policies, and 14 have emergency care opt-in/out policies.

Among the challenges facing HIEs, the report said 131 initiatives cited addressing government policy mandates as a major challenge.

"In 2009, the main challenges faced were privacy, defining value, developing a sustainable business model, addressing technical aspects, addressing organization and governance issues, and engaging health plans. The challenges have not changed since 2009, aside from the concern of addressing government policy mandates. It is clear that, at the time of the survey, initiatives were very concerned about implementing the impending meaningful use regulations," the report said.

Another critical issue is the development of a successful business model, which is in the early stages of development. The report noted that while many organizations have gained the capacity to transmit data, all operational initiatives do not yet have sustainable business models.

Further, of the 107 initiatives that were not dependent on federal funding in the last fiscal year, only 18 said they broke even as a result of operational income alone.

"Hospitals and state grants are still the main source of funding for initiatives that are not state designated entities. Federal grants are a close third to state funds, but it is clear that providers in general, including hospitals and physician practices, have assumed a more significant role with respect to funding," the report said.

Editor's Choice
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer