Public health information exchange vendors such as Medicity, Axolotl and Orion continue to see their businesses surge because of statewide and regional HIE initiatives.
Axolotl recently announced that it had helped connect all of the hospitals in Maryland, for example. Medicity--which doubled its number of new collaborations last year--says it has hooked up 56 hospitals in Ohio. And Orion just announced that it had contracted with Inland Empire Health Information Exchange (IEHIE), covering San Bernadino and Riverside Counties in California.
When fully connected, IEHIE will be one of the largest information exchanges in the country. With a total patient population of more than 4 million, IHIE includes 21 hospitals, 21 medical groups, the two local medical associations, the hospital association, both county public health departments, and Inland Empire Health Plan. Fourteen of these organizations, including more than 1 million patients, will participate in an IEHIE pilot beginning in April, the company said.
While Orion has announced a number of deals recently, the company is not apparently growing faster than Medicity or Axolotl. Contrary to earlier predictions, the latter two firms' affiliations with insurance companies do not seem to have dampened provider interest in doing business with them.
Meanwhile, insurers continue to move into the connectivity space. Just last month, three eastern Blues plans and Lumeris Corp. said they planned to purchase NaviNet, which provides online communications between providers and health plans. The announcement noted that NaviNet's communications expertise would be combined with Lumeris' "accountable care delivery platform" to facilitate formation of accountable care organizations (ACOs).
Beyond ACOs, healthcare organizations have another reason to join HIEs: in Meaningful Use Stage 2, they have to send clinical summaries across business boundaries to providers using disparate EHRs. While a private HIE might serve this purpose in some cases, many providers will have to join public exchanges to meet that criterion. HIEs will also play a crucial role in transmitting data to public health agencies--another Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirement.
In an interview with FierceHealthIT, Brent Dover, president of Medicity, cited one other reason for the willingness of hospitals to join statewide HIEs in some states: They can use the same infrastructure to link online to their doctors, saving them the expense of building their own exchanges, he said.