Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Health Information Exchange Efforts Heat Up

The need for robust health information exchange (HIE) continues to grow, and not just because it is a part of the meaningful use incentive program. Having infrastructure to support HIE will be a critical component to enable new payment and care delivery models like accountable care organizations and medical homes.

Background on HIE Efforts

There has been a strong national effort in developing the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN), as well as a dramatic increase in local and regional efforts to create viable health information exchange organizations (HIOs). These efforts include the Direct Project, which created a simple, secure, scalable, standards-based way for participants to send authenticated, encrypted health information directly to known, trusted recipients over the Internet. The Direct Project -- which was sponsored by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT -- has become an important on-ramp to the health information superhighway.

But just as state and local governments alone could not build and maintain the Interstate Highway system, the federal government has stepped in to provide funding and a policy framework to develop the NwHIN. As part of the HITECH Act -- most famous for its incentives for the meaningful use of electronic health records -- 56 states and territories received $548 million to build out HIE capabilities at the state level, with a requirement that nearly a third of their budget be allocated toward interstate exchange...

Read more at my iHealthBeat post