Healthcare data exchange participation increases, takes proprietary bent

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More healthcare providers are joining health information exchanges (HIEs), according to new data released by IDC-Health Industry Insights (HII).

The results from IDC-HII's Leading Indicators Survey Q3 2007 are "directionally encouraging," according to Marc Holland, program director of provider research for HII.

According to the results, some form of HIE is high on the radar screens of hospital CIOs, as fifteen percent of hospital respondents indicated they were already participating in an HIE, while 35 percent noted that they were in active discussions.

In a February 2008 IDC-HII straw poll of community hospital CIOs, 22.7 percent said their healthcare system was participating in an HIE, 18.2 percent were not participating but expected to in less than a year and 27.3 percent were not currently participating but were evaluating HIE participation, Holland said.
Thirty-three percent of community hospital CIOs are participating in a proprietary HIE, or closely tied to a sponsor versus an HIE that involves multi-stakeholders. Twenty-five percent said they expect to participate in a proprietary HIE within one year.
"The rate of progress is rapidly increasing, but it's taking a proprietary bent," Holland said.

Holland noted that of the number of successfully operating HIEs, the common characteristics are those that were formed as a grassroots effort, driven by strong, commonly held community goals or the dominance of a single provider.
"Successful models will serve as 'EMR-lite' offerings," he said, which would allow providers who are unable to afford an EMR system to participate through technologies that enable connectivity, which he said has ‘real value’ in a hospital setting.

All hospitals have voluntary attending physicians who need access to both hospital and their own office information, which they do not currently. "There is a need for incorporating information in the most convenient setting," he said. "They need information to be convenient, consistent and readily available.”

Holland predicted the industry will see: organic growth from the bottom up; absent more active government participation and funding; progress be slower than anticipated; complexity, privacy and confidentiality issues remain key challenges; and proprietary HIEs surpass community-based regional health information organizations as the dominant model for exchange.