One of the components of the HITECH Act is funding for the State Health Information Exchanges (HIE) Cooperative Agreement Program. A total of 56 states, territories, and “qualified State Designated Entities” have received awards.
Health Information Exchanges are defined as:
” The movement of health care information electronically across organizations within a region or community. HIEs provide the capability to electronically move clinical information between disparate health care information systems while maintaining the meaning of the information being exchanged. The goal of HIE is to facilitate access to and retrieval of clinical data to provide safe, timely, efficient, effective, equitable, patient-centered care.”
The HITECH HIE awardees are charged with accelerating the exchange of patient specific health data, both within the state and across state lines. As with all of the objectives of HITECH, the purpose is to improved efficiency, access, and quality of health care. There are many components of HIE sustainability that are being addressed across the many different health and cultural landscapes: policies, governance, technical framework and services, business operations, and financial structures. Local commitment is a requirement of this program, as HIEs must also match a portion of the grant awards beginning in year 2 of the 4-year program. An HIE Toolkit made available by ONC provides additional details and resources for awardees and those who want additional information.
These types of entities have been around for some time. You may have heard of Regional Health Information Exchanges or “RHIOs.” Often the terms RHIO and HIE are used interchangeably. Dr. David Brailer commandeered the concept back in 2007 as part of the ONC’s mission to create a National Health Information Network (NHIN). The NHIN—today operating as the NHIN Connect is considered critical to assuring data and information exchange for care coordination. Look at what your state is doing!