HIE hinges on regional health information organizations

April 29, 2010

Regional health information organizations must provide leadership and financial incentives if more comprehensive, community-wide use of health information exchange is to occur, according to research recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Regional health information organizations must provide leadership and financial incentives if more comprehensive, community-wide use of health information exchange (HIE) is to occur, according to research recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Currently, small practices do not have the means or motivation to fully participate in regional HIEs, but many are exchanging health data in piecemeal arrangements with stakeholders with whom they are not directly competing for patients," they noted.

The authors based their recommendations on questionnaires and interviews conducted with nine primary care practices in Minnesota. Each practice has fewer than 20 physicians, and the practices had varying levels of use of electronic health records and HIE. No practice was fully involved with a regional HIE, nor did most have short-term plans to include HIE.

Practices are motivated to participate in HIE via government mandates, payer incentives, cost savings, and the potential for increased quality, patient safety, and efficiency, the investigators said. The most common barriers to participation in HIE cited by study participants were lack of interoperability, cost, lack of a buy-in for a shared HIE vision, security, privacy, and limited technical infrastructure and support.