HIE activity picks up, but sustainability remains a problem

After a bit of a lull in the late 2000s, health information exchange--to no one's surprise--is picking up again. (Funny how a massive national incentive program that requires HIE can do that.)

According to the multi-stakeholder eHealth Initiative, there are 234 active HIEs nationwide, up from 193 a year ago. Of that total, 56 are state-designated entities that have been awarded nearly $548 million in federal stimulus money to help promote interoperability of EMRs.

Still, most of the HIEs are in the start-up phase, as only 73 are considered operational this year, though that is up from 57 in 2009. And sustainability remains a major issue. While 107 of the 199 HIEs that responded to the eHealth Initiative survey do not depend on federal funding, most still rely on start-up grants or other subsidies; a mere 18 have broken even on operational income, the organization says.

Many of the HIEs that are transmitting live data have shown some early successes. According to the survey, 33 of the HIEs say they are reducing clinical administrative and filing times for participants, and 30 report that they are saving users time with processing lab and radiology results. Twenty-eight percent say their HIEs have helped contain costs by reducing redundant testing.

For more data:
- take a look at this Health Data Management story
- download the report (.pdf)
- find out more about the survey on this eHealth Initiative page