WHAT IS AN HIE?
Historically, the management of healthcare data was severely fragmented which led to unnecessary mistakes, loss of revenue and lack of care plan compliance. Medical records were maintained largely on paper, or in a hybrid state, with many providers resisting the move to a completely electronic system. In addition, there was a lack of communication between organizations and providers, as each facility maintained their own set of records. Patients often times were referred to specialists outside of network, resulting in leakage for the organization and unnecessary charges on patient accounts. The responsibility was on the patient to carry their own records from appointment to appointment, proving exceptionally challenging for the elderly, disabled, and mentally ill.
Dangerous, yet familiar, mistakes were made with allergy documentation, medication management, and treatment plans. For example, if a patient has a documented penicillin allergy but presents unconscious to an out of town emergency room, he/she is at risk for a reaction if that record is not able to be viewed by the treating clinician.
An influx of these use cases led to the eventual need for centralized repositories of patient data, such as a health information exchange (HIE). An HIE is a system that allows healthcare providers and patients to securely access and share medical information electronically, with the goal of improving the speed in which data is accessed and providing more quality data, thereby enhancing the safety, cost and quality of patient care. It is promoting the collaboration between healthcare groups to openly exchange clinical information for treatment and now, non-treatment, purposes.
HIEs improve healthcare delivery by increasing interoperability, meaning they provide the ability to exchange and present data in a way that can be understood by the end user. Interoperability is the ability of different electronic medical record (EMR) vendors and applications to communicate, to exchange data accurately, effectively, and consistently. This data transfer between EHRs and other healthcare stakeholders, has now grown to include life and disability insurers.