Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative launches new initiative to share patient records nationally

SHIEC's new initiative lays the foundation for interoperability between regional HIEs.

A national trade association for health information exchange organizations has launched a new initiative that allows regional HIEs to share patient medical records across the country.

The Patient Centered Data Home (PCDH), launched by the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC) on Thursday, expands several smaller regional implementations designed to allow HIEs to synchronize patient records and notify physicians when their patient experiences a health event away from home.  

“The HIEs working together to create PCDH built a powerful foundation for interoperability between HIEs—and we managed to do it using our current technologies,” Dan Porreca, executive director for HEALTHeLINK, Western New York's HIE, and chair of the SHIEC board of directors, said in an announcement. “We also created and agreed to a national, legally-binding agreement, which laid the foundation for HIEs sharing data with each other across state lines and throughout communities.”

The national initiative lays the groundwork for medical records to follow patients across the 60 HIEs that make up SHIEC’s membership. When a patient visits a medical facility away from the area where they live, the provider generates an admissions message that includes the patient zip code. Using that information, PCDH notifies the treating physician that previous medical records for that patient are housed in another HIE. Likewise, the system can alert the patient's regular physician that a new record has been generated through a distant HIE.

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That functionality is particularly helpful in states like Arizona, where people spend their winters, and Utah, where some residents have to cross state lines to access the nearest hospital.

“This is a significant step toward national interoperability,” John Kansky, president and CEO of the Indiana Health Information Exchange, said in an announcement, adding that “almost every single state has several healthcare markets that cross inter-state, inter-HIE lines.”