States making progress toward HIEs

In its latest step toward toward a state-wide health information exchange (HIE), the Iowa Department of Health will team with Affiliated Computer Services, Inc., a division of Norwalk, Conn.-based Xerox, to power connectivity among providers, payers and patients.

The state touts itself as being ahead of the curve when it comes to health information technology. Providers will be able to connect to the Iowa Health Information Network (IHIN) starting this year, according to the Iowa e-health website

Other states are ahead of Iowa, including Rhode Island, which was one of the first to implement an exchange. But many more state HIEs are works in progress.

A statewide HIE network in Illinois will provide patient data to more than 50,000 healthcare providers, payers and state agencies. It recently chose the Cambridge, Mass.-based InterSystems for its HIE platform. It is expected to serve a patient population of 13 million individuals and is also set to launch its first phase this year.

Meanwhile, Houston's HIE just went live in December. Right now it has limited secure messaging capabilities but plans to expand its services in 2012.

Fittingly, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) recently noted that HIEs will be among state lawmakers' top priorities this year.