What is a Health Information Exchange (HIE)?

A Health Information Exchange (HIE) is a secure way of sharing patient health information electronically across a large network of clinicians. It’s a central source of information that contains longitudinal, community-based medical records.
Rather than a single product or platform, an HIE is a combination of technologies, procedures, and policies. The main goal of an HIE is to enable high-quality, cost-effective patient care through seamless, secure, efficient data sharing. An HIE doesn’t replace each provider’s electronic medical record system. Instead, it provides additional data that wouldn’t otherwise be available.

Why is this necessary?

Patients receive care in a wide range of settings with different systems for diagnosis, treatment, documentation, and more. While delivery choices can indeed translate to better care, clinicians need ways to bring the resulting disparate data streams together to make effective care decisions. All too often, providers lack a full view of their patients’ medical problems, tests already performed, medications, and current treatment plans.
An HIE makes this coordination of data possible by integrating diverse data sources into a single, holistic view. In a sense, an HIE acts like an international newspaper, gathering data in different languages from diverse sources and creating a contextualized picture that is easy to access and understand.

What does an HIE mean for patients and clinicians?

Put simply, when an HIE meets the goal of high quality care at reduced cost, everyone benefits.

Patients

  • Receive optimally coordinated care from providers who are better informed about their medical history and needs
  • Pay less out-of-pocket costs for duplicated or inefficient services
  • Endure less hassle in transferring records between providers

Clinicians

  • Benefit from more complete medical records for patients, enabling sound decision making
  • Gain an accurate, complete data source for calculating quality metrics
  • Share and access data for purposes of treatment and care coordination more easily

What about security and governance?

Data sharing in an HIE only happens in accordance with policies, regulations and laws governing patient privacy and data protection. The network will maintain a robust structure of safeguards, team members, and policies to ensure that access, transmission, and use within the HIE is secure. Governance will include oversight and accountability for every aspect of data integrity, security, and delivery.