HIE: The Future of Electronic Medical Records?

Health Information Exchanges (HIE) are organizations that synergize and effectively streamline health information records. Many state governments provide funding for HIE implementation with the goal of facilitating access to and retrieval of clinical data to provide more timely, focused, and equitable patient-centered care. Even today, the federal and state governments have not clearly defined the regulations required for HIEs, but those within healthcare IT know that these organizations will be heavily regulated in the future. In fact, the few regulations created by the requirements for governmental funding require HIEs to be not-for-profit organizations that allow any physician and medical practice to join.

So far, the HIE project has only begun with the implementation of private HIEs forming around major hospitals and geographical areas. For example, New Jersey is currently divided into six HIEs. As seen in the image above, these six HIEs are private organizations that combined their efforts to make health information more accessible and transferable within their geographically area. Many of these organizations were created by the partnerships of larger hospitals and the assimilation of smaller practices. The goals of these private HIEs are to compile data within their region, to provide easier access for physicians from different locations, minimize human error during the exchange and decrease the time required for this communication.

One can assume that as healthcare information becomes more accessible within the state, it will eventually lead to interstate state communication. Once state HIEs are formed, the government will most likely initiate a federal HIE and eventually talk about international agreements to share the large database of medical data. Going back to the diagram above, private HIEs are expected to communicate with a single state entity, this state entity will provide their accumulated data to a federal HIE. Currently, the state HIEs and the federal HIE are not yet established due to constant changes within state regulations regarding health care and the “meaningful use standard.”