Indiana HIE, AT&T partnership could serve as national model

As health information exchanges continue improve and expand, increased capacity no doubt will become an issue. Officials with Indiana's highly regarded health information exchange believe they have found a solution to that problem, they announced today, by teaming with AT&T to improve scalability, thus increasing the HIE's reach to hospitals throughout the state.

Indiana Health Information Exchange CEO Harold Apple said he thinks the effort will serve as a model for the rest of the nation to follow. While certainly a bold statement, it's one that carries some weight, given the longevity and success of IHIE--the nation's largest (and one of its oldest) HIEs.

As a whole, HIE efforts nationwide aren't exactly on the up and up, according to Claudia Williams, director of state health information exchange with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. At an event at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., yesterday, Williams pointed out that only 19 percent of hospitals nationwide are able to share clinical data outside their own systems, according to an article in FierceGovernmentIT.

Janet Marchibroada, chair of the health information technology initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center, echoed Williams' sentiments. "We need to get a little further on standards--whether they're data transport standards, data content standards, more easy-to-use guides--in order to apply those standards," she said. "So you don't need to be a big, integrated delivery system in order to make those standards work."

Williams added that business models also have been a huge barrier to HIE adoption. The failure of CareSpark, a regional health information organization in Tennessee that ultimately could not function without federal dollars, comes to mind with that statement, although Williams specifically was talking about "business models that gain value from retaining and capturing ... not sharing information."

IHIE currently serves 10 million patients, and consists of more than 19,000 physicians at 80 facilities.

To learn more:
- read this IHIE announcement
- check out this FierceGovernmentIT article