Health Policy Spotlight: Evolution of Health Information Exchange (HIE)

In July, an IDC MarketScape study, “U.S. Health Information Exchange Platform Solutions 2012 Vendor Assessment,” provided evidence that the market of health information exchange (HIE) is shifting focus from mere connectivity to the provision of information that providers can use to improve health care.

For decades, the health information exchange market has relied on the construction of large technology infrastructures aimed at collecting data—the community health information networks (CHINs) of the 90s, the regional health information organizations (RHIOs) of the 90-00s, and the state level health information exchanges (SLHIEs) at present.

However, due to the rapidly evolving regulatory and policy landscape combined with increased incentives for providers to coordinate care, the concept of exchange as a piece of technology is rapidly transitioning to the exchange of information that can be used to facilitate care.

Health IT vendors, particularly those with server-based technology, are challenged with shifting from big, closed systems to networks that enable transactions between the right stakeholders. In other industries, transactions between relevant parties only generate actionable information when the right information is available at the right time and presented to the right parties.

In health care, this translates to presenting relevant data to stakeholders throughout the health care ecosystem at the point-of-care. Some examples include:

  • Outcomes data to a provider when recommending a clinical trial or drug therapy
  • Cost information for providers, patients, and families when determining a care plan
  • Patient compliance to a provider who’s ordered a test and needs to identify follow-up actions
  • Patient allergies to an ER doctor upon admission
  • Provider performance data to patients choosing a doctor
  • Syndromic surveillance data to public health agencies

These examples illustrate another critical shift in the HIE market—the consumer of HIE has evolved. Payers, patients, family members, hospitals, the state, public health agencies, and providers will become increasingly desirous of the right information at the right time to inform their behaviors. So for health IT vendors, not only has the necessary technology shifted away from big software to adaptive networks, but their addressable user bases have expanded.

Are you using HIE services or technology? Have you noticed a shift in technology?