An Important Shift, Most Hospitals Now Favor HIEs, Whatever Those Are

Posted on November 14, 2011 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

For quite some time — I’d estimate five years at least — health information exchanges were the dark horse of the health IT world.  A few successful ones emerged, but far more foundered, in many cases because hospitals involved couldn’t or didn’t want to share information. Today, on the other hand, everyone seems pro-HIE. The question is, is everyone even talking about the same thing?

These days, with the big bad government breathing down their neck, hospitals are scurrying to connect with HIEs. According to new data released by healthcare technology research firm CapSite, which surveyed about 340 hospitals on HIE adoption:

  • 74 percent either plan to buy new HIE solutions or already have them in place
  • 32 percent are already
  • 16 percent plan to engage a consulting firm to help move their HIE planning and vendor selection process ahead
Hospitals planning HIE tech investments were most interested in buying MPI/patient and provider indexes, immunization reporting and results reporting/delivery solutions, CapSite’s survey found.Now, these results aren’t incredibly definitive.

As an InformationWeek story on the study wisely points out, CapSite didn’t do much to narrow down its definition of an  HIE before people there did the research.

The thing is, just about any networking technology could be called an HIE if you try hard enough.  For example, here’s Chilmark Research’s definition:

A Health Information Exchange (HIE) is a technology network infrastructure whose primary purpose is to insure the secure, digital exchange of clinical information among all stakeholders that are engaged in the care of a patient to promote collaborative care models that improve the quality and value of care provided.

If that wasn’t vague enough for you, here’s what HIMSS has to say on the subject:

A health information exchange is the electronic movement of health-related information among organizations according to nationally recognized standards.

The real clincher, though, is the breadth of vendors CapSite included in its research. Check out this list:

Accenture, ACS, Allscripts, athenahealth, Bass & Assoc., Carefx, Cerner, Covisint, CPSI, CSC, CTG, dbMotion, Deloitte, Dell, Dr. First, eClinicalWorks, Epic, GE Healthcare, Healthland, HIMformatics, HP, ICA, InterSystems,  KPMG, McKesson, Medicity, Meditech, MedPlus, MEDSEEK, Microsoft, MobileMD, NextGen, Northrop Grumman, OptumInsight (formerly Axolotl), Orion Health, Prognosis, QuadraMed, RelayHealth, SAIC, Siemens 
All that being said, I’m happy to see additional data suggesting that hospitals are making HIE progress. Got a feeling 2012 is going to be a good year — for vendors at least.