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All Things HIT

Jan 27 2012   10:06PM GMT

Beacon shines a dull light on Hospital HIEs



Posted by: AllinHIT
Health information exchange, HIE

Beacon Partners, the large, Massachusetts based health care consulting firm, recently came out with a Health Information Exchange (HIE) survey, titled “Health Information Exchange Study: Assessing the Interest and Value in HIE Participation“.  I hated this title and took interest in the fact that most hospitals, of course, are interested in HIEs.  Sharing information between community hospitals is a no brainer, which every health care professional knows!  Additionally, with the birth of ACOs, of course hospitals are interested in connecting their physician operated practices via a plethora of different types of EHRs.

The report surveyed a little over two hundred C-level health care executives, and again, there is nothing new and surprising. However, the report did shine a dull light on those that have yet to commit to HIEs. How do you define this commitment?  I could say it’s in a dollar amount, but the truth is that something more important must come first.  What can that be?

First and most important is a committed governance/oversight body, dedicated to the concept and hence making it happen.  As the report indicates,  HIEs with a committed “oversight group” are the ones operating.  How you can REALLY be interested in developing an HIE without a committed team in place is beyond my understanding!

Not only is there a need for a committed team, but there must be a committed community as well.  I have seen the power of individual commitment and community support firsthand.  Consider the efforts of the Healthy Ocala HIE, the dream of two physicians I know, Dr. Melvin Seek and Dr. David Willis.  For years, they preached the possible benefits of an HIE in this rural city, located 70 miles from Orlando.  Due to their multi-year effort, Health Ocala is one of the most successful private HIE’s in Florida. I witnessed their “spiel” for years as they marched thoughout Florida garnering support, and their ability to involve the major employers, and competitive hospitals has been very impressive indeed.

Second, is the current efforts underway, driven by my friend Christopher Sullivan, PHD, the HIE manager of the South Florida Regional Extension Center.  I sit on a workgroup for this HIE, and Christopher has garnered the support of private hospitals, the health care physician community, an HIE vendor and the State of Florida HIE stakeholders.  His “stick-to-it-ness”, competence, and ability to draw others to his cause I expect will have good results. However, there will always be that dull light shining on sustainability.  Maybe if we can get payers, employers, and the community involved, there will be a beacon of hope, just like in Healthy Ocala!

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