HIE data sharing tempered by competitive concerns

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The fear of losing competitive advantage among stakeholders is slowing the development of health information exchanges (HIE) into platforms capable of managing data for quality management and performance incentive programs, according to the Center for Studying Health System Change.

“What we found were very consistent concerns across all HIEs about sharing data,” according to Joy Grossman, a senior health researcher at center, who spoke Sept. 9 at the annual meeting of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), reported Government Health IT. “Providers and health plans view patient data as a key strategic asset.”

Grossman led a 2007 AHRQ study, in which a team of researchers evaluated community stakeholders of four HIEs: Cincinnati-based HealthBridge; Indiana HIE; CareSpark, which serves parts of Tennessee and Virginia; and the Tampa Bay Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO) in Florida.

According to the results of the study, no HIEs had comprehensive systems for clinical data. For the HIEs, such as HealthBridge and Indiana HIE, all the major hospital systems agreed to collaborate rather than compete on information exchange, which provided a critical mass of data. With newer HIEs, such as CareSpark and Tampa Bay RHIO, stakeholders are negotiating separate data-use agreements and are unable to ensure a critical mass of users and data, she added.

As a result, Grossman concluded that HIEs might have to choose between keeping all their stakeholders involved or moving forward on more advanced functions with a smaller group of stakeholders and a much narrower focus, according to Government Health IT.