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Survey shows vendor solutions can ease health data exchange

Today’s health information exchanges are slowed by a lack of system interoperability, but that could be resolved if more vendors would develop integration solutions and adopt standardized pricing for their products, health information exchanges said in the eHealth Initiative’s 2013 Health Data Exchange Survey.

Of the 199 data exchange initiatives that were surveyed, 68 responded that they have had to connect with more than 10 different systems. Interoperability with other health IT systems has been problematic for 142 of the exchange initiatives.

“It’s relatively simple for providers within a hospital using a single EHR to share information about their patients. The real challenge and expense is getting dozens of different systems to talk to each other,” said Jennifer Covich Bordenick, CEO of the eHealth Initiative, in a release.

Nearly all (151) of the initiatives have had to build multiple interfaces to communicate with different systems. The cost and complexity of engineering an interface were commonly cited in the survey as obstructions to interoperability. Those difficulties could be eased if vendors heed the exchange initiatives’ call for integration solutions.

The technological aspects of health information exchange often overshadow the goal of sharing patient data. Two of Michigan’s largest HIEs, Michigan Health Connect and Great Lakes Health Information Exchange recently reached a deal to securely share patient information. The agreement enables data sharing among 96 of the state’s approximately 117 hospitals.

Farzad Mostashari, M.D., former national coordinator for health IT, continued to push for greater interoperability and HIE progress while he was on his way out of office. Mostashari aimed to clarify ONC’s plans for information exchange after HHS received more than 200 responses to a request for information about HIE. Representatives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services seconded Mostashari’s message about accelerating HIE adoption, saying they are working on tying HIE use to reimbursement.

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