Are EHR vendors poised to extinguish public HIEs?

With the number of health information exchanges declining since 2012, and EHR makers creating their own exchanges, the latter might just be a more effective way to share patient data. 
By Jack McCarthy
07:12 AM
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EHR extinguish HIE

The longevity of public health information exchanges has long been obscured with questions of financial sustainability and the viability to provide services hospitals cannot undertake on their own.

This month researchers at the University of Michigan found an 11 percent drop in the number of state and community exchanges between 2012 and 2014 from a total of 119 HIEs down to 106 — and perhaps the more telling discovery is that all are facing barriers to success while only half of those reported financial stability.

"Our results suggest early signs of a shakeout as these efforts try to prove they are creating value," University of Michigan’s Schools Public Health Assistant Professor Julia Adler-Milstein said in a statement.

At the same time, however, electronic health record software makers are also creating their own exchanges for hospitals and networks using their systems, according to the University of Michigan.

Using national data, Adler-Milstein and Jordan Everson, a doctoral candidate in health management and policy at University of Michigan, determined that hospitals using a market-leading EHR system conducted 45 percent more information sharing than hospitals running software made by a different vendor.  

“While health information exchanges are intended to enable more effective and efficient care by electronically transferring patient data among provider organizations,” Adler-Milstein and Everson wrote in Health Affairs (abstract), “hospitals using HIEs may find it easier to connect with other hospitals via electronic health records.” 

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