Getting Started with HIE

Now that you have a foundational understanding of HIE, it is time to get started on determining what the best solution is for your practice.

Today, there are many models and business approaches emerging to support electronic health information exchange (HIE). These include:

  • Development of regional, local, or state nonprofit or government-sponsored exchange networks
  • Local models advanced by newly formed accountable care organizations
  • Exchange options offered by electronic health records vendors
  • Services provided by national exchange networks1

Determine which exchange service providers are available to you

The advancement of HIE varies from state to state. Congress allocated funding and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is administering efforts to modernize how patient health information is stored and shared. Resources are available to providers to help navigate these efforts. For assistance in understanding what exchange service providers are available to you and what efforts are ongoing within your State Health Information Exchange Program, contact your state’s HIE representative which can be located within the State Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement Program Key Contacts.

Talk with the service providers in your region

Each service provider differs in its maturity within the HIE market as well as the services it offers to providers interested in HIE. When talking with a service provider, keep in mind the mission and goals of your practice to determine which service provider is best for you. You should leave the conversation with a solid understanding of the following:

  • Economics and sustainability of the HIE
  • Internal requirements of participating in the HIE
  • Technology behind the HIE and which forms of exchange the HIE supports
  • Non-economic benefits of the HIE (in-direct return on investment)
  • Risks and liabilities involved with joining the HIE2

Talk with your vendor

Some vendors have incorporated the functionality of electronic health information exchange into their Electronic Health Record (EHR). Reach out to your vendor to see if this capability is offered within their product. Below are sample questions to ask:

  • Do you have HIE capabilities within your EHR?
  • What privacy and security features does your product currently provide and support?
  • What form(s) of exchange does your EHR support?
  • What are the costs associated with upgrading to include HIE within our practice’s EHR?
  • What are the maintenance and monthly costs of including HIE within our practice’s EHR?
  • If you do not currently have HIE functionality, do you plan to integrate HIE into your EHR at some point?
  • If so, what is the timeframe for when HIE will be available?
  1. Claudia Williams, Farzad Mostashari, Kory Mertz, Emily Hogin and Parmeeth Atwal. From The Office Of The National Coordinator: The Strategy For Advancing The Exchange Of Health Information. Health Affairs, 31, no.3 (2012):527-536.
  2. Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). “Evaluating a Potential HIE OpportunityWeb Site Disclaimers”, HIMSS Guide to Participating in HIE. 2009 November.