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Health data exchange is alive, maybe even getting well, slowly  

Health IT market research reports from KLAS Enterprises LLC are super influential. Using hard evidence gathered by KLAS researchers, they show clearly where segments of the market are headed.

The KLAS blog is where executives and researchers from the Orem, Utah-based firm flesh out the larger reports with commentary and, sometimes, details that didn’t make it into the exhaustive final reports.

KLAS founder Kent Gale did just that in a Jan. 25 post that gets into some interesting context surrounding a KLAS interoperability study released last fall.

It turns out that with quite a few interoperability technologies and initiatives actually at work out in the real world, one that is closely associated with the federal government appears to have the most traction, Gale explained.

That one is the Sequoia Project, which runs the eHealth Exchange, a nationwide health information exchange network that was conceived within ONC, but is now run  independently by the Sequioa Project. The Sequioa Project  used to be called “Healtheway,” and many people still refer to it by that name.

In any event, as KLAS was exploring health data exchange connections between providers and some big federal agencies — including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Defense — the eHealth Exchange kept coming up.

Other health data players, including FHIR (HL7’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard), Surescripts, and RelayHealth, a McKesson Corp. subsidiary that does health data exchange, also turned up in KLAS’ research, apparently to a lesser extent.

KLAS asked health IT vendors for lists of provider organizations that are their clients and were sharing data with the three big federal agencies.

The results were somewhat spotty, but the Sequoia Project and its eHealth Exchange, showed some vitality, Gale reported.

KLAS asked 240 provider organizations to validate how many provider organizations were successfully sharing patient data with the agencies.

One vendor reported 40 such live connections. KLAS got in touch with those providers, and more than 20 reported they were sharing data with the VA and SSA through the eHealth Exchange.

“Many gave details regarding numbers of transactions and noted the general ease with which the Healtheway connection was put into place,” Gale wrote, employing the old name.. “Fifty percent of the vendors questioned and over 40% of the provider organizations see eHealth Exchange as extremely valuable for the future.

“Our interviews confirmed the live connectivity already in place as well as the intent of many large acute care organizations to implement eHealth Exchange,” Gale continued in the blog post.

So, kudos to the Sequoia Project for a job well done in somewhat consistently accomplishing the difficult feat of sharing patient health information in a still interoperability-challenged health IT world.