HIE costs too high for some physician practices

The big question mark about health information exchanges is whether they'll be able to develop sustainable business models that allow them to survive after federal and state grants run out. Their long-term viability depends on financial support from healthcare providers, who must be convinced that HIEs are worth the money.

Some Colorado physicians have balked at joining the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO), a statewide HIE, because of the cost involved, according to an article in the Boulder County Business Report. CORHIO, which was created with $9 million in government grants, wants the doctors to pay $85 per month each, plus $2,500 to $5,000 or more for staff training.

Coupled with the fact that the government's Meaningful Use incentives won't cover the full cost of electronic health record implementation, this seems like too high a cost to some doctors quoted in the article. A representative of the 70 physicians on staff at Colorado Medical Center, for example, noted that they'd have to pay a total of $5,000 per month. Since most of the doctors use the same EHR, he said, and can exchange data among themselves, it seems pointless to spend all that money to join CORHIO.

Another local group, the 150-doctor Integrated Physician Network, is connected online with Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville, Colo. It costs the group about $17,000 per year for their link with the hospital system. In contrast, it would cost $154,800 a year to join CORHIO. The group is negotiating for a lower rate, according to the article. 

Area hospitals seem more inclined to join CORHIO, despite payments ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 a month, depending on system size. One hospital leader noted that this is cheaper than building and maintaining interfaces to all of the EHRs used by community physicians. 

For more information:
- read the Boulder County Business Report article 

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