Survey: More Communities Exchanging Health Info

Local, state and regional initiatives for exchanging health information have matured significantly, but most are still in the planning stages.

A survey finds that local, state and regional initiatives for exchanging health information have matured significantly since a similar survey conducted in 2005, but most efforts are still in the planning stages.

Of 165 initiatives identified across the United States, 27 percent of respondents identified themselves in the implementation stage and 16 percent said the effort was fully operational. The survey was released on Sept. 25 by the nonprofit eHealth Initiative.

The 2005 survey included 109 respondents representing HIE (health information exchange) efforts. Of those, 44 said they were in early stages of development; 40 said they were in advanced stages but not fully operational, and 25 said they were fully operational.

Compared to 2005, initiatives were more likely to involve multiple stakeholders. Over 90 percent of the initiatives included hospitals and primary care physicians. Sixty-nine percent included health plans, and 54 percent included employers.

More than one in five of the initiatives were exchanging diverse forms of data, such as claims, dictation, emergency department episodes, enrollment/eligibility, inpatient and outpatient episodes, laboratory results, and radiology results.

Funding continues to be a major barrier; though the survey authors predicted that federal initiatives to promote interoperability would ease this burden somewhat. Based on this years survey results, 24 percent of respondents receive funds from hospitals, while 21 percent are receiving funds from payers. Physician practices (16 percent) and laboratories (13 percent) are also growing as funding sources.

The summary of the report released by eHealth Initiative did not discuss issues of privacy or security but described other key findings.

The level of policy activity and leadership at the state level has increased significantly in the last year.

Policy development, planning and HIE implementation activities are taking place at various levels of the system, but survey results indicate trends in the types of activities that are taking place at the regional, state and local levels.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read about the "Common Framework," a set of system architecture and policy recommendations for regional health information exchanges.

Health information exchange initiatives are continuing to mature. Interest in improving quality and safety, inefficiencies experienced by providers and rising health care costs are the primary drivers for health information exchange efforts.

More than 20 percent of respondents are exchanging clinical data.

Services designed to support care delivery processes continue to be the primary focus of health information exchange efforts.

Health information exchange efforts are continuing to offer services focused on quality improvement, positioning them for "value-based healthcare" support.

Engagement of the multiple stakeholders in health care is expanding considerably with the largest increases in hospital, health plan, employer and primary care physician involvement.

Health information exchange efforts are significantly increasing efforts to connect with physicians.

Increasingly, health information exchange efforts are tapping into users of their services to provide funding for ongoing operations.

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