Report: No possible panacea for RHIO/HIE organizations

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Market research firm Health Industry Insights released a report suggesting that there is no foreseeable uniform informatics solution that exists for the continually evolving healthcare industry, based on results from a survey of 20 software products that service regional health information organizations (RHIOs) and health information exchanges (HIEs), which included assessments of their features and capabilities.

"We estimate that there are now 150 to 200 RHIOs and HIEs in various stages of maturity across the United States," said Marc Holland, Health Industry Insights program director and co-author of the report. "With the issuance of a request for proposal by the Office of the National Coordinator, we anticipate RHIO organizations will consolidate their efforts and form larger organizations that require more robust solutions," he said.

Key findings from the survey:

  • RHIOs vary widely in business models and technical architectures; vendor products have been built around re-usable frameworks that can serve as the foundation for multiple, custom deployments.
  • Vendors with products that were originally introduced to support enterprise master patient index, clinical messaging, Health Level Seven (HL7) messaging, and clinical portal functions had more experience connecting to external clinical applications.
  • Although HL7 standards have been situated for many years, direct vendor experience with the specific external source clinical applications is an important consideration when selecting a vendor's HIE solution.
  • Most vendors believe that surviving RHIOs will migrate to more robust architectures and will have the financial resources to do so.

In December 2006 and January 2007, 20 vendors serving the RHIO/HIE market were surveyed with hard copy questionnaires and interviews, according to the Framingham, Mass.-based company.