REPORTS

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Strategy: Health Information Exchanges That Work

Medical Specialties Are Key To Global Goals

Health Information Exchanges: Profiling Four Efforts

There are about 200 health information exchanges in the United States today, and that number is growing fast, particularly now that the federal government is expected to make the ability to exchange patient data electronically part of the "meaningful use" criteria that physicians and hospitals have to meet to get funds to help them deploy electronic health record systems.?

HIEs feed data into patients' EHRs from doctors and hospital visits, as well as lab and other medical tests done at outside facilities. They alert doctors when information is available, helping speed decision-making by providing faster access to data. They also cut down redundant testing and help ensure patient safety by letting all caregivers know what medications a patient is taking and other pertinent information. Most important, HIEs ensure that all doctors providing care to a patient have the most up-to-date and comprehensive information.?

While there's a lot of enthusiasm for these networks, not everyone is comfortable. There is a steep learning curve, and physicians are having to get beyond petty concerns about how other doctors might use patient data to steal patients and that patients could use easier access to their data to change doctors more frequently.

HIEs aren't new. Many were launched over the last decade without solid business models and didn't succeed. Now, with big money behind getting healthcare providers to install and use EHR systems, it's possible that HIEs will have a better chance of surviving. This report looks at four that appear to be off to a solid start.

 

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