HIMSS advisory group predicts shift in HIEs

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's (HIMSS) State Advisory Roundtable released its first report this week at the opening of the HIMSS Government Health IT Conference and Exhibition in Washington, D.C.

The most striking observation in the report is that state-level health information exchanges will need to prepare to change their business models as federal and state policies promote a transition from fee-for-service to value-based reimbursement in the healthcare industry. "'Health Information Exchange' will likely need to shift to 'Health Care Coordination Facilitation,'" said the announcement of the report on the HIMSS Blog.

Some regional HIEs, such as HealthBridge in Cincinnati, MedAllies in New York, Inland Empire HIE in southern California, and MyHealth Access Network in Tulsa, Okla., already are moving in that direction, although not necessarily with encouragement or support from their states.

The report also made these recommendations:

  • States should partner with federally funded regional extension centers (RECs), Beacon Communities, Medicaid programs, healthcare professional associations, and HIMSS national and local chapters to expedite health IT
  • Support for health IT should remain on state and federal agendas as a bipartisan policy objective
  • States should make a concerted effort to improve health literacy, which is foundational to the goal of improving population health.
  • It should be recognized that widespread health IT adoption is a necessary precursor to healthcare reform
  • Federal and state agencies should work closely together "to ensure the value of state-level HIEs and funding sources are aligned to ensure success."

The latter recommendation implies that, despite having received nearly half a billion dollars in federal funds, many states do not see a pathway to sustaining their statewide HIEs and may need further aid from Washington. Indeed, a big section of the report is devoted to explaining the value of state-level HIEs in preparing for "the future of healthcare," including case studies from eight states.

According to the blog post, written by former Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas and former Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer, the state advisory roundtable was formed in July 2011 "to help identify health IT issues that cross state boundaries and provide grassroots insight, recommendations and action steps to assist states officials in advancing health IT." The roundtable, they said, includes health IT "champions" representing state and federal governments, RECs, and HIEs.

To learn more:
- read the announcement on the HIMSS Blog
- see the report from the state advisory roundtable
- check out this InformationWeek article about the Inland Empire HIE
- here's the website of the MyHealth Access Network

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