Overview of Health Information Exchanges

08 Oct

In keeping with the current Meaningful Use legislation, agencies across the country are developing health information exchange programs. Health Information Exchanges allow for the streamlined transmission of health-related data and patient information between health care providers and ensure this exchange is secure and up-to-date.

UC-David Health System has launched a state-wide data sharing program in California. This initiative — the California Health eQuality Program — will link hospitals, emergency departments, and physicians by 2014. In addition to a four-year, $38.8 million grant through the federal economic stimulus package, officials are seeking other funding sources to expand the program past 2014.

The initiative, as described by Kenneth Kizer, Director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement, will allow health information to “flow safely and quickly between and among health care providers…”

When will the Pacific Northwest hop on the wagon? We already have. The state of Oregon launched its statewide health information exchange, called CareAccord, in May 2012. The system will improve provider communication, reduce duplicate orders and help health care providers meet the requirements for Meaningful Use, which will allow them to qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive programs instituted by the Obama administration beginning in 2009.

Harris Healthcare Solutions will implement Oregon’s health information exchange and Oregon Health Authority will administer the program. Harris will employ a Direct Secure Messaging System to exchange information through any internet-enabled device, meaning that patient data will be available to practitioners on everything from laptops to mobile phones.

Other additions to the data exchange in the next phase may include:

  • Data exchange between EHR systems.
  • Record search through Master Patient Index Record Locator services.
  • Connection to federal systems, including those managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration.

Similarly, Washington State has instituted their version of Health Exchange, One Health Port Health Information Exchange (OHP HIE). According to, “This integrated physician/hospital partnership provides patients the highest quality care through a sustainable healthcare delivery system made up of over 17 partnering clinics. This relationship effectively and efficiently meets the healthcare needs of the Greater Yakima Valley region and its people.”

Participating physicians and clinics, or trading partners, will be updated regularly and posted to the One Health Port website in the Practitioner Level Provider Directory.

In addition, to ensure the availability of data transactions, OHP HIE will include a Washington State HIE Entity Level Provider Directory. This directory will list any organization wishing to post the HIE or HIO they participate through, what transactions they are prepared to send and receive, as well as routing addresses and technical contact information for each entity.

With Meaningful Use providing benefits to health care professionals across the country, an increase in state-specific data-exchange programs like those above is likely to continue and will alter the way health care information is transmitted and processed.

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