A pair of reports unveiled over the past week, in addition to a recent blog post by National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, detail the growing importance of health information exchange in the U.S. In particular, the reports--released by the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC) and consulting company IDC Health Insights, respectively--focus on best practices for creating and sustaining HIEs.
The NeHC report examines several public and private information exchange efforts--including the Care Connectivity Consortium, MedVirginia and Indiana HIE--and ultimately sets the table for national connectivity. It outlines four phases necessary to building a successful HIE, calling interoperability "a journey, not a destination." The four phases include:
- Reaching a consensus with regard to objectives and vision for the exchange
- Assessing "market conditions and community readiness" for an exchange
- Developing a strategy for implementation
- Establishing final details for creating an exchange (such as governance, technology requirements and financials) and implementing the exchange
"Despite the supportive environment facilitated by government leadership and the substantial progress that is underway and providing value, there is still a long way to go before HIE becomes an integral and expected part of providing high quality healthcare," the report's authors say. "Emerging HIE initiatives and those organizations striving to continue their progress to implement comprehensive HIE can and should build on the lessons and success of others."
The second report also leans heavily on the past successes of early HIE adopters to provide a roadmap for future exchange efforts, but doesn't focus as much on the endgame of national connectivity as the NeHC report. It does, however, suggest that accountable care efforts lie in the balance with regard to HIE deployment.
"Too many [exchanges] have relied on the 'build and they will come' strategy," report author Lynne Dunbrack said in a statement. "Instead, [exchanges] must plan for sustainability from the very beginning."