eHI report shows growth in health data exchanges

By Diana Manos
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON – The nation’s healthcare IT chief, Robert M. Kolodner, MD, says a new report released by eHealth Initiative shows tangible evidence of healthcare IT progress.

Kolodner and other leaders at a briefing last month commented on eHI’s “Fifth Annual Survey of Health Information Exchange at the State and Local Levels,” a poll of 130 community-based initiatives in 48 states, which revealed significant advances in healthcare information exchanges.

Healthcare IT has “without question” changed and will continue to change over time, Kolodner said. The use of electronic health records by providers has become more routine, he said, and personal health records are emerging.

Kolodner said the federal government needs to continue to drive healthcare IT adoption and interoperability. Healthcare IT needs to be combined with other aspects of reform, such as those promoted by the HHS value-driven healthcare initiative, he said.

Janet Marchibroda, CEO of the eHealth Initiative, said this year’s survey shows a 30 percent increase in the number of operational HIEs over last year.

“We are making a lot of progress and I’m very excited,” she said. “We’re seeing some real impact and getting some results.”

Many HIEs reported improvements in care and reduced costs, according to the report. The survey showed 18 new HIEs were started since last year.

Yet sustainability remains a challenge, according to Marchibroda. The majority of HIEs no longer receiving federal funding are now backed by hospitals, state governments, private payers or philanthropic sources.

“We are seeing stakeholders working together who don’t always work together,” she added.
According to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who attended the briefing, healthcare IT is the platform that U.S. healthcare reform needs to stand on. It is “extraordinarily vital for our country,” he said.

Whitehouse said though the U.S. healthcare system is in dire need of reform and Medicare is fast becoming “an unmanageable situation,” all “is not doom and gloom.” He pledged to do all he can to move healthcare IT forward.

“We are already late in changing an out-of-control, bloated healthcare system,” he said. “We have the chance to solve this now. We need to keep this healthcare IT effort going full blast.”

Do you see signs of healthcare IT progress in your practice or in HIEs in your area? Send your thoughts to Senior Editor Diana Manos at