HIE use sees 'considerable growth,' but only in a few states

Health information exchange adoption and use continues to see "considerable growth," but is driven only by a small number of states, according to a new report from NORC at the University of Chicago researchers.

Examining the State HIE Cooperative Agreement Program, NORC found that from 2011 to 2013, directed transactions increased more than threefold and patient record queries increased more than fourfold. However, the authors note that those numbers do not reflect high participation from all states, but only from a select few.

For example, in the second quarter of 2012 Indiana, Colorado and New York accounted for more than 85 percent of transactions, while in Q3 of 2013, Michigan, Colorado, Indiana, New York and Vermont accounted for more than 85 percent of the total.

Other findings in the report include:

  • HITECH funding, including awards made under the State HIE Program, created and expanded HIE-related infrastructure
  • In 2014, the level of HIE activity ranged from 51 percent (Nevada) to 97 percent (Minnesota)
  • The gap between hospital-to-hospital and hospital-to-ambulatory care provider exchange narrowed
  • Challenges included intensive need for money and time, barriers in relationships with electronic health record vendors and HIE vendors, and sustainability
  • States saw an increase from 44 to 72 percent in the number of physicians using an EHR to e-prescribe between 2011 and 2014
  • Care summary exchange from a hospital to another outside the system between 2011 and 2014 rose from 22 percent to 60 percent

"Throughout the program, grantees overcame many challenges to HIE, and new challenges emerged in the process. Some states were more successful than others in navigating these challenges and in enabling exchange," the authors conclude. "Though not all such challenges have been resolved, there is now more HIE capacity than before the program, as well as a path forward toward greater data liquidity for both exchange and interoperability."

A similar report from NORC in June found that both HIEs and providers' needs regarding them have evolved since HIEs were first launched. The researchers found that providers' HIE needs turned into more of a desire for information at the point of care to improve healthcare delivery.

NORC in December also released a report on the Beacon communities, finding they had "mixed progress" on healthcare use and quality measures. The Beacon Community Program was formed in 2010, and included 17 communities that would serve as examples for the country on electronic health record adoption and health information exchange to improve care quality and efficiency.

To learn more:
- check out the report (.pdf)