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See how HIE and HIT could be strengthening healthcare.
You might think, "Wouldn't it be better if the manufacturer that built the body also installed the other parts and ensured that it all ran smoothly before I bought it?" That wouldn't seem unreasonable, would it?
Similar ideas exist in the healthcare industry. In fact, before "best in breed" came along and gained popularity, integrated healthcare products basically were the norm.
The ultimate goal for HIT-wielding healthcare providers is that their critical systems-electronic health record (EHR) systems, practice management, billing and reimbursement-all smoothly exchange rich patient data with no stop-and-go interpolation/interpretation needed, within and between individual practices, as well as within regional health information exchanges (HIEs) and between labs, payers, hospitals, and patients.
Wouldn't that be great? It'd certainly be an improvement over what we have today.
Everyone exchanging secure, accurate, and timely patient data without a knock or ping or pothole? It might not be that far down the road.
Recent advances by individuals advising the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), as well as the affiliated groups involved in the Health Story Project ( http://www.healthstory.com), which include HL7 International, the American College of Physicians, the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS), and the American Health Information Management Association, among others, lead me to believe that the day of rapid HIE is dawning, and it will be as revolutionary to today's healthcare industry as was the combustion engine to the late 19th-century transportation industry.
Healthcare leaders also recognize this trend. Thus, healthcare's renewed interest in integrated systems. Rumor has it, the "gold ring" is within our grasp.
Integration became a kind of dirty word for a while there, but it's back, and it means business.