Top 5 videos from HIMSS17
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Top 5 videos from HIMSS17

Finding HIE sustainability without federal funds

We "had to build a real business out of HIE from the start."
By Anthony Brino
07:52 AM
Dollar sign and computer code

In the new system of digital health interconnections, one health information exchange organization is setting up a clear way to serve a population of more than 10 million, and to do so beyond federal funding.

Inland Empire Health Information Exchange (IEHIE) is giving the hybrid model of HIE a thorough test in Southern California — and the lives of some 30 percent of the state’s population may depend on it when sharing of their health data is on the line.

The HIE is serving much of metropolitan Los Angeles and the Central Valley, through partner organizations, with a centralized repository and portal access. 

To make this work — and others have had a lot of challenges of course — the organization is taking a three step approach to sustainability, said Richard Swafford, IEHIE executive director and Orion Health clinical consulting director.

As Swafford plans to detail at HIMSS15, the primary strategies are growth, service and value.

Each strategy is focused on specifics that support the HIE to give it the critical mass it needs to function organizationally and meet its mission of improving patient care.

“For example, in the growth strategy, the deployment of a public/private hybrid model allows IEHIE to partner with private organizations to support their enterprise HIE needs,” Swafford said.

Notably, IEHIE is a self-starter akin to the pre-HITECH HIEs, starting with no federal support and using a fee model from the get-go.

“This means that IEHIE had to build a real business out of HIE from the start without reliance on grant revenue to continue to exist,” Swafford said. “The need to drive growth resulted in a number of unique strategies that focused on creating enhanced value to participants in the form of services and other value-added capabilities. Other HIE's could leverage this experience as they struggle to create a sustainable environment.”

Swafford’s session, titled "A hybrid model for HIE: A path to sustainability,” is scheduled to take place on Thursday, April 16 at 10:30 a.m. in Room S404.