Study: HIE development underway in 75 percent of states
Three-quarters of U.S. states have begun developing a health information exchange (HIE) of some kind, according to a new report from the State-Level HIE Consensus Project.

The need for healthcare reform generally falls behind the creation of state-level HIE organizations, along with the need to keep patients' data private and secure, according to Lynn Dierker of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), the project’s director, reported Government Health IT.

Governance responsibilities are the most common role of the HIE at the state level, however, the organizations often are responsible for the technical operations as well, Dierker said.

Meanwhile, some HIEs are nearly ready to begin exchanging health data.

Synergy is needed between national and state-level health IT programs and other health reform initiatives such as quality-of-care measurement and pay-for-performance incentives, Dierker said. Additionally, several state-level HIEs want to participate in the successor organization to the American Health Information Community (AHIC), which is being created as a public/private partnership outside the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the report, those who pay for healthcare should be more involved in the development of HIEs. “At a national level, the roles for Medicaid and Medicare in helping to build and sustain HIE capacity must be clarified and strengthened,” it stated. “The active engagement of health plans in strategies to support state-level HIE remains an important priority.”

The project will also decide whether it is desirable to accredit HIEs that meet certain criteria and how to sustain organizations after a start-up period. In addition, the relationship of state-level HIEs to the planned Nationwide Health Information Network remains undefined, the report stated.

A new national organization, which will hold its first meeting next week in Dallas, called the State-Level HIE Leadership Forum, is emerging to share insights and lessons learned, according to Dierker.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT supports the State-Level HIE Consensus Project.