The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) collaborated with the eHealth Initiative (eHI) on online guidebook for health CIOs building HIEs.

Nicole Lewis, Contributor

November 17, 2011

3 Min Read

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As the importance of exchanging patient data through health information exchanges (HIEs) grows, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and the eHealth Initiative (eHI) have released a guide that offers practical assistance on measures to successfully implement these exchanges.

The HIE Guide for CIOs is a Web-based tool that executives at CHIME and eHI hope will be used to help healthcare organizations demonstrate one of the core requirements of Stage 1 Meaningful Use, which is to electronically exchange key clinical information among providers of care and patient authorized entities.

"Stage 1 requirements for HIE are relatively simple; providers only have to test data exchange capabilities in order to achieve the Meaningful Use objective," Fred Bazzoli, senior director of communications for CHIME, told InformationWeek Healthcare. "While Stage 2 objectives are under development, the expectation is that each stage will build on requirements in previous stages, so it's certain that providers will have to do more than just test data exchange in Stages 2 and 3."

Giving an example of the volume of data that will be exchanged as providers work their way to Meaningful Use Stages 3, Bazzoli said providers will be expected, for example, to exchange clinical data with public health agencies. He also said the guide will help providers analyze their HIE options, know which questions to ask of potential health information organizations, and focus on standards to which they'll need to confirm to achieve the higher-level data exchange necessary in subsequent stages.

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The guide includes many of the steps already taken by HIEs that are further along in establishing their systems. These include chapters on:

-- Assessing the local landscape for HIE
-- Considerations in forming an enterprise health information organization
-- Selecting an external health information organization
-- Technical requirements for HIE
-- Assessing service offerings
-- Ensuring privacy and confidentiality
-- National HIE initiatives

"As we have tracked HIE initiatives over the past several years, we have learned that data exchange involves a lot of moving pieces," Jennifer Covich, executive director of Washington-based eHI, said in a statement. "Healthcare IT executives can use the HIE Guide for CIOs to help think through the process of getting involved in HIE."

A recent study from KLAS on HIE development showed that the number of operational HIEs has more than doubled to 228 since last year, and of those, private exchanges have increased more rapidly than public organizations for sharing information.

To develop the guide, CHIME interviewed its CIO members who have been engaged in establishing HIEs. The guide also relied on the resources of eHI, particularly its HIE Toolkit, which provides indepth information related to their development.

"The HIE Guide focuses on actionable information that healthcare IT executives need to know in order to make wise decisions to ensure successful health information exchange for their organization," George Hickman, VP and CIO at Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center and one of the lead reviewers of the publication, said in a statement. "These decisions must match an organization's strategy, and health IT executives need a resource like this to walk them through the important factors they need to consider in order to make good HIE decisions."

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