I attended HIMSS15 in Chicago in April and one of the key themes being discussed was population health. This is the ultimate goal for hospitals and healthcare providers; using interoperability and connecting communities to share data to be analyzed for the benefit of the population (ie. patients).
This all sounds good, but how will this be achieved? One way is through participation in Health Information Exchanges (HIEs). Hospitals often ask how they can determine the right HIE to join. There are so many options for connecting to a HIE. Should it be a private or community HIE? Should they join their State HIE? How does information get shared? What do they need to do to get their data ready to share? All of these are great questions. Here is a brief overview of the types of HIEs to consider, how to decide which type is right for you, and how to determine your strategy to move forward.
The ultimate goal of a HIE is to improve patient care and decision-making by having all the data available in one place (i.e.. improving population health). There are several ways to accomplish this. Here are a few options.
#1 — Federated HIE
Definition: Shares medical data between a defined hospital system, across organizations in a region, state, or local area, for the purpose of improving patient care.
Type of Data Transfer: Data transfer is de-centralized. Each care organization is responsible for the patient data, including ensuring accurate patient matching. Requests for sharing of patient data are sent directly to participating entities. Data is rarely stored for analytics and is aggregated on-demand.
Benefits: Data is exchanged on an as-needed basis, so each organization controls what information they are requesting about their patients.
#2 — Centralized HIE
Definition: An entity that aggregates all data into a centralized database for all participating organizations across that region, state, or local area for the purpose of improving patient care.
Type of Data Transfer: Data transfer is centralized. A central database contains all patient data for a region or state and the centralized database is responsible for ensuring accurate patient matching. Any participating provider has access to all patient data in the shared database.
Benefits: Aggregates large amounts of data for improved patient care and analytics. Participating providers can get the data they need on any included patient.
#3 — Hybrid HIE
Definition: An entity that supports both the Federated and Centralized models.
Type of Data Transfer: Participants can choose or not choose to contribute their data into the data repository. Data can be requested on-demand and not stored, while other facilities can contribute their data to a repository.
Benefits: Participants have more control over the data they share and the data that they request. Analytics can be provided for those facilities contributing to the repository.
So, now that you understand the options, how do you decide which type is right for you?
This question can be answered very simply. If your goal is to participate in population health or get any level of analytics, then Centralized is the way to go. Contributing data to a Centralized HIE will allow you and the community to have a true aggregated view of data points. If your needs relate to exchanged data between 1 or more entities, then the other definitions above, may be good for you.
Once you’ve decided on the HIE type, what are the first key steps to getting ready to join a HIE?
- Contact the HIE representatives to show your interest
- Evaluate your internal expertise as it relates to your major use cases
- Define a plan/strategy
- Use outside experts if needed
It is no longer a question of “should I,” but a question of “when will I” move toward HIEs and interoperability. If you have not defined your strategy or are struggling with how to proceed, contact me and we can discuss a plan to move you forward.