Why Health Information Exchange?

Recently physicians have started to adopt electronic medical records in order to enjoy the government’s financial incentive bonuses as per the HITECH Act. Yet, if they really want to earn these incentives, physicians have to make sure that their EMR is related to some other EMR and health technology systems.

The government has announced clearly that an important requirement to meaningful use is the physician’s ability to participate in a health information exchange (HIE). To be precise, your EMR ought to connect with IT systems in other practices for sending and receiving data; this may vary from the exchange of clinical notes with other physicians to sharing a patient’s entire medical history.

ONC has developed a set of technical necessities electronic medical records software should meet to guarantee that they are competent of exchanging data with other systems. The ONC has initially approved two organizations for this purpose—CCHIT and Drummond Group—which will examine and certify EMRs for their ability to meet these requirements.

Health information exchange refers to the act of exchanging data among two or more health care organizations, also defining the network on which that information is to be exchanged. Every HIE exchanges different types of data and is capable of accomplishing different tasks. Each has its own business structure and you may be charged for the amount of information you request. The HIE could be membership-based as well, with a monthly subscription fee, not more than $100 per physician.

“The basic point of these health information exchanges is to provide each of the clinicians, both the physician who is treating the patient and the physician who previously treated the patient, with the best up-to-date information possible.” said Barry Chaiken, a fellow with the Healthcare Information and Management Systems.

The federal government is investing a great deal of money in getting healthcare physicians, predominantly those in small practices, to connect to health information exchanges since these can help them achieve meaningful use requirements. Numerous HIEs at present are serving as the regional extension centers charged with assisting physicians to meet meaningful use. A list of these centers can be found on the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology website.

To extract the maximum benefit from the HIEs, physicians can help in finding ways to develop them in an effective manner. According to the experts, value creation for physicians is the key to any HIE’s accomplishment, which is why several are still in the evolution phase. Therefore even if data exchange isn’t the short-term goal for a practice right now, many HIE activities are geared towards helping physicians meet meaningful use.