I was recently listening to an interview with a hospital CIO talking about their move to becoming an ACO and the various ACO initiatives. As part of the interview the hospital CIO was asked about HIEs and how they were approaching the various HIE models. His answer focused on their internal efforts to create what he called an Enterprise HIE.
I think it’s telling that even within a hospital system they haven’t figured out how to exchange health information. They control the end points (at least in large part) and yet they still have a challenge of exchanging information between their own provider organization.
One trend that is causing the above challenge has to do with hospitals acquiring medical practices. As you acquire a practice or even acquire a hospital there’s often a challenge associated with getting everyone on the same IT system. Plus, even within one hospital they use hundreds of different applications to capture clinical content. Thus the need to create an enterprise HIE.
I think that the idea of hospitals building enterprise HIEs puts some context on public HIE efforts. First, if hospital organizations are having a challenge putting together an internal enterprise HIE, it’s no wonder that public HIEs are having such a challenge. If hospitals don’t have their own houses in order, how could they export that to a public HIE?
In that same interview I mentioned above, the hospital CIO said that he was monitoring the other HIE initiatives in his area. However, he said that he believed that we were far from seeing HIEs really take off and be used widely. Obviously each HIE is very regional in nature since healthcare is mostly regional in nature. However, it was a telling message about the slow pace of HIE.