New York State announced June 6 that its health information exchange (HIE) will expand by adding three local networks from across the downstate region.
The Statewide Health Information Network of New York, or SHIN-NY, took shape as three regional health information organizations (RHIOs) joined the data-sharing network, including Brooklyn Health Information Exchange, e-Health Network of Long Island and Taconic Health Information Community (TINC) Exchange, which connects health records for the Hudson Valley region.
HIEs unite multiple electronic health record (EHR) databases so that doctors can share data from patients' medical histories, drug interactions and treatment decisions.
Exchanging health records can be critical when patients visit emergency rooms or undergo lab work such as a Magnetic Resonance Imaging exam and their attending physicians need to receive the results quickly, David Whitlinger, executive director of the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC), said in a statement. NYeC is a nonprofit organization overseeing the development of an HIE for New York State.
SHIN-NY incorporates HealthUnity's software as a service (SaaS) platform, IBM's Initiate master patient indexing system and InterSystems' HealthShare analytics platform. InterSystem also powers HIEs in states such as Illinois, Missouri and Rhode Island.
The network will operate as a public utility, NYeC reported.
SHIN-NY will offer Patient Record Lookup, a secure search engine that enables doctors to search across multiple databases to locate EHRs for their patients.
In addition, doctors can query each other to coordinate care using Direct Exchange, a messaging tool similar to email.
Meanwhile, 98 percent of providers plan to concentrate their HIE strategies on regional networks like SHIN-NY rather than build a national health-exchange network, according to a survey by Black Book Rankings, a market research firm that publishes a series of books that include rankings on products in technology, health care, finance and hospitality. The company released its "2012 State of the Health Information Exchange Industry" report May 31.
Although few hospitals have joined HIEs, the need for sharing EHRs and the federal government's push for creating accountable care organizations will lead to strong growth by 2014, according to the report.
Only one in 15 health provider organizations have joined an HIE or hired an enterprise vendor, but 84 percent of providers are discussing such an alignment, according to Black Book Rankings.
"The HIE environment is still in serious flux marked with vendor consolidations and acquisitions, changes in strategic offerings, stakeholder angst, customer shifts and losses, [accountable care organization] pressures and pending reimbursement reforms," Doug Brown, senior partner for Black Book Rankings, told eWEEK in an email.
Cerner, Harris Healthcare, Lawson and NextGen were among Black Book Rankings' top vendors supporting HIEs.
"These five vendors along with just a handful of others are recognized for exceeding the expectations of early adopters," said Brown. "Because prospective HIE clients are specifically seeking reliable connectivity builders with proven functionalities to invest limited organization IT dollars, the industry will see these customer-honored vendors grab the major market share through the next year."
For its survey, Black Book Rankings interviewed 4,000 executives in health care and insurance. Eight out of 10 health care providers said they plan to increase their HIE budgets significantly by 2014.