'New value propositions' emerge for HIE

Exchanges have 'undergone a significant metamorphosis over the past two years'
By Mike Miliard
10:25 AM
Money and tech

The push toward value-based outcomes means health information exchange technology has new opportunities for value-add, according to reports published this week by IDC Health Insights.

With the expansion of accountable care and patient-centered medical home models, opportunities now exist for HIEs that didn't in a fee-for-service environment, according to IDC.

Now that incentives to exchange data are much more closely aligned than they were under older reimbursement models, platforms have the chance to prove their worth as the need for analytics and ability to aggregate and centralize health information come to the fore.

IDC sees a "major shift" in vendor focus – beyond just enabling interoperability, and toward efforts to offer broader capabilities for pop health. Its two new studies take stock of an HIE market far-removed from the grant-funded initiatives of early aughts.

The first, which focuses on packaged tools, examines seven companies: Cerner (MobileMD), eClinicalWorks, Informatics Corporation of America, Medicity, Optum, RelayHealth and Transcend Insights.

"Packaged solutions are designed to meet a very specific set of requirements and reduce the risk of uncertainty related to project scope, timelines and costs," said Lynne A. Dunbrack, research vice president, IDC Health Insights, in a press statement. "Speed to value will be an important consideration for healthcare organizations making the transition from fee-for-service care to value-based reimbursement while also striving to achieve meaningful use milestones."

The other report examines HIE platforms from AxSys Technology, Allscripts (dbMotion), Harris, Infor, InterSystems, Oracle and Orion Health.

"Platform solutions for HIE provide the tools to enable HIOs and ecosystem partners to build out new functionality to meet their constantly evolving needs in a value-based reimbursement environment," said Dunbrack.

In each report, the seven industry "front-runners" were chosen based on current market share and potential for growth, according to IDC.

"The HIE market has undergone a significant metamorphosis over the past two years," said Dunbrack. "Vendors are positioning interoperability as an enabling technology for population health management and analytics."

The reports find continuing consolidation as the HIE market evolves – pointing, for instance, to the acquisition of HealthUnity by ZeOmega, a population health management vendor, earlier this year. Vendors such as AT&T and Caradigm, meanwhile, have exited the HIE market.

The pace of M&A activity has increased as smaller institutions and physician practices look to be acquired in order to survive: IT integration plays a major role in determining success or failure of consolidation, according to IDC, which notes that, "increasingly, interoperability is viewed as a strategic asset."

One interesting takeaway is that there are different buyers for HIE technology, as opposed to more population health-focused tools.

"When the focus was on connectivity, the buyer tended to be the CIO who was interested in cutting off fax machines and aggregating the data," according to IDC. "As HIE evolves into care management and population health management, the new buyers are CFOs and chief medical information officers who are trying to get a handle on risk-based contracts."