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Health Information Exchanges Hot On Vendors' To-Do Lists

The U.S. health IT stimulus programs not only push for widespread e-health record adoption, they're promoting the use of health information exchanges, or HIEs. That's giving health IT product vendors a reason to evaluate their portfolios to see whether they've got offerings or relationships with partners that help them partake any upcoming HIE frenzy.
The U.S. health IT stimulus programs not only push for widespread e-health record adoption, they're promoting the use of health information exchanges, or HIEs. That's giving health IT product vendors a reason to evaluate their portfolios to see whether they've got offerings or relationships with partners that help them partake any upcoming HIE frenzy.Here's a little about what the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services has to say about health information exchanges in its interim rulings issued last month spelling out proposed details of meaningful use and other stimulus program details:

Without health information exchange, electronic health records are simply digitized filing cabinets and will not achieve their quality of care or cost containment potential. Furthermore, given the proposed definition of meaningful use, HIEs can significantly help Medicaid providers adopt and use EHR in such a way that the goals of the incentive program are met. The inclusion in HITECH of HIE grants to be awarded to States or State-designated Entities by the Office of National Coordinator are an additional indication of the symbiotic relationship between health information exchanges and optimal use of EHRs.

With HIE bucks promised in HITECH--including $546 million for state grants promoting HIE projects--vendors of health IT products and services are scrambling to make sure they've got something to offer in evolving HIE initiatives, especially as more widespread E-health record adoption takes root among healthcare providers.

Lawson Software and MEDecision are among vendors that talked to InformationWeek this week about moves that will help them flesh out their HIE plans.

Lawson the other day announced a $160 million deal to acquire Healthvision, a Dallas-based company providing integration and application technology and related services to hospitals and large healthcare organizations.

Lawson is rounding out its integration and interoperability technology offering so that it can help healthcare customers participate in emerging regional health information exchanges, as well as help healthcare organizations deploy internal HIEs, said Jim Catalino, Lawson senior VP vice and general manager of Lawson Healthcare.

While Lawson sells ERP and other business apps to healthcare clients, the addition of Healthvision's Cloverleaf integration and interoperability products to Lawson's offering is "critically important," Catalino said.

"Most healthcare organizations have 200 or 300 disparate applications," including lab systems, ambulatory care and other clinical systems, including e-health records, said Catalino.

With the addition of the Cloverleaf product offering, "we're like Switzerland enabling the integration of all these disparate systems," he said.

The Cloverleaf offering helps give Lawson inroads to regional health information exchange projects involving cities and states (as well as efforts in Canada), and also projects being launched by large healthcare organization to create their own internal HIEs, Catalino said.

Meanwhile, MEDecision, which offers clinical decision support and collaborative care management products to healthcare payers, announced a new health information exchange-related win this week. MEDecision is providing its products--including its Nexalign collaborative health information exchange service to the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care to help the organization manage care for 750,000 Medicaid patients in Arkansas and Alabama.

In March, MEDecision will expand its HIE strategy even further by unveiling new products related to its acquisition last year of HxTechnologies, Inc., a provider of HIE technologies, including patented record locator and communication protocol technology, said Scott Storrer, MEDecision CEO in an interview with InformationWeek.

The HIE market is heating up for MEDecision, said Storrer, who also hinted that he expects the company will play a key role in a new health information exchange in Minnesota.

The burgeoning HIE market will be among the drivers of MEDecision's growth this year, both in terms of revenue and employee headcount, Storrer said. Last year, the company added about 50 employees--this year its workforce will grow from about 300 today to about 400, said Storrer.

Meanwhile, revenue--which grew between 20% to 25% in 2009, will increase about 42% to 45% in 2010, Storrer predicts. (The company doesn't disclose its revenue figures.)

"We're adding over a 100 employees to support that growth," he said. In fact, the company is planning its own job fair during the HIMSS show in Atlanta in March to help find "savvy business and IT talent," he said.

"We're bolstering our architecture group, development team, quality and assurance," as well as marketing, distribution and other staffs, he said. The company will also add personnel to its data center operations as more MEDecision clients move to SaaS models, he said.



Blue Cross of Northeast Pennsylvania, the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and a range of large and small healthcare providers are using mobile apps to improve care and help patients manage their health. Find out how. Download the report here (registration required).