Indiana leaders urge Congress to see their data exchange as model

By Bernie Monegain
10:39 AM

Healthcare IT leaders in Indiana say they have a tested model of healthcare data exchange - and the government would get a quick return on its investment if it were replicated around the nation.

With $2 billion to $5 billion designated for health information infrastructure (the range between the House and Senate versions of the economic stimulus legislation), this could result in a $450 billion savings, they say.

"Indiana has seen first-hand how health information exchange drives better healthcare for our patients, increases efficiencies for our healthcare professionals and saves healthcare dollars," said Vincent C. Caponi, CEO of St. Vincent Health and chairman of the Indiana Health Information Exchange's board of directors.

Replicating Indiana's platform throughout the country "would have incredible positive implications on our healthcare outcomes and cost savings," he said.

CaponiCaponi noted a 2005 RAND Corporation study estimated that efficient exchange of medical records among doctors and hospitals in the United States would save $81 billion annually, while other estimates have put that figure as high as $450 billion per year.

There is a strong job creation and economic component to HIE, Indiana HIE leaders said. According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, investing $10 billion in the health information technology industry, which includes HIE, will create 212,000 jobs.  

Created by the Regenstrief Institute, Inc., and operated by the Indiana Health Information Exchange (IHIE), both non-profit corporations, the HIE promotes efficient gathering, analysis and distribution of clinical information.

The exchange connects 39 hospitals, 10,000 physicians and more than 6 million patients. It delivers lab results, reports, medication histories and treatment histories in real-time, sent instantly to where they're needed, regardless of the hospital system or location.

Indiana's major healthcare providers, payers, physicians, public health officials and business and community leaders launched the IHIE five years ago.

In Indianapolis - the most health IT-wired city in the nation, according to HIE officials - the HIE saves $26 per emergency department visit by eliminating duplicate tests and other unnecessary activities. 

Overhage"IHIE was launched with the vision of faster, safer and more effective healthcare for Hoosiers," said J. Marc Overhage, MD, CEO of the IHIE and director of medical informatics at the Regenstrief Institute. "We've demonstrated this reality by aligning efficiency and quality with transparency to improve patient health and help support better outcomes for patients."

"Patient privacy is the most important consideration for the Indiana Health Information Exchange," Overhage said. "Our stringent rules have been agreed upon by our community to protect patient privacy while allowing information to be used as effectively as possible for patient care. Health information exchange policies must find ways to balance these issues while providing the highest quality of care that Americans need and deserve."