Larger CO Hospitals On Board With RHIO

Posted on July 29, 2013 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.

Colorado’s hospitals have reached an interoperability turning point. With the addition of Exempla Healthcare’s three Colorado hospitals to CORHIO, the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization, all of the state’s hospitals with 100 beds or more are now connected to an HIE network, reports EMR Daily News.

Right now, 29 hospitals are connected to the CORHIO HIE, with 15 preparing to connect, making a total of 44 hospitals now participating in the exchange. The latest to join are Exempla Good Samaritan Hospital in Lafayette, Exempla Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge and Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital in Denver.

Along with the hospitals, a total of more than 1,800 office-based physicians, 100 long-term and post-acute facilities, 13 behavioral health centers and five national/regional labs are either connected to or in the process of connecting to CORHIO, according to EMR Daily News.

As impressive as CORHIO’s progress is, there’s still more to be done. There are a total of 61 hospitals located in CORHIO’s service area, which means that the exchange still needs to sign up just under a third of hospitals with access to the network.  Some of the hospitals which haven’t connected up are in rural areas; to help bring them under CORHIO’s wings, the exchange is partnering with the Colorado Rural Health Center.

The ultimate question here, as it is with any HIE, is whether the business model is sustainable.  For the financial year ending September 30, 2012, CORHIO had total revenue of  about $9.7 million (between grants, contracts and implementation fees), and total expenses of $9.5 million. That’s not much of a margin, especially in the capital-intensive world of health IT.

Now, there’s no need to make big profits to provide a public service, but it’s helpful to know that your money is coming from a business model that works. I’d say that this is in doubt in CORHIO’s case. I wonder: are other notable HIEs are doing better?