KLAS: 'Private' HIEs leaving 'public' HIEs in the dust

KLAS, the Orem, Utah-based research firm that ranks everything under the sun, has just released its latest findings on health information exchanges (HIEs). It found that the number of operational HIEs has roughly doubled in the past year. "Private" HIEs, though--those associated with particular healthcare systems--are growing much faster than "public" HIEs that include unrelated healthcare providers.

"The number of live public HIEs rose from 37 to just 67 this year, while the number of live private HIEs mushroomed from 52 last year to 161 this year," KLAS says in an announcement.

KLAS attributes this disparity to two causes: problems in getting competing organizations to cooperate, which is reflected in physician reluctance to join public HIEs; and concerns that after government grants dry up, public HIEs will not be able to sustain themselves financially.

In a recent editorial, I pointed out that some HIEs, such as the Michiana Health Information Network, have developed solid business models and are thriving without government grants. There is no question, however, that many HIEs have had difficulty in getting financial support from their healthcare communities.

According to the HIE customers surveyed by KLAS, physicians may also be contributing to the lag in public HIEs. Many doctors fear, these sources say, that the ability to exchange data online with other providers will result in them being inundated with information.

In the KLAS survey, 430 healthcare organizations evaluated 35 HIE vendors. Among the vendors of private HIEs, Medicity, RelayHealth and Cerner scored the highest. (Epic, though more popular than any of those three, was not rated.) Axolotl and Orion scored high among public HIE vendors, but were not ranked because they didn't meet KLAS' "Konfidence level."

Despite the rapid growth in HIEs overall, KLAS says the market is still in its early stages. Partly because of the Meaningful Use criteria for federal incentives, the firm expects HIEs "to increase in importance going forward." 

To learn more:
- here's the KLAS announcement
- purchase the study for yourself 

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