Health Information Exchange (HIE) is the secure electronic exchange of health information among unconnected healthcare organizations.
The goal of HIE is to allow clinicians and patients to access critical health information, at the right time in the right place, in order to provide or facilitate the best possible care.
HIE is formed when a network of organizations follows recognized standards for electronic health information exchange (HIE).
Hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and laboratory facilities may be linked by HIE at the regional or national level.
Without HIE, information is locked into each organization’s electronic health record (EHR) or other information systems, making it difficult for clinicians to access data on patients who have received healthcare from multiple organizations.
HIE allows healthcare providers in separate organizations to view and share patient health information (such as vital signs, test results, and medications) at the point of care. Patients can also use HIE to manage their health information flow.
When is Health Information Exchange (HIE) useful?
There are several scenarios in which access to clinical data is beneficial to healthcare providers and patients:
- The patient is transferred from one hospital to another
- The patient is sent to the emergency department after the tests are carried out in the clinic
- The patient is discharged from the hospital and then followed up in the clinic
- The patient moves across town and finds a new primary care provider
In all of these transitions of care, the patient would have health information stored in EHRs from healthcare facility 1 that would influence the type of care provided at healthcare facility 2, only if providers had access to it. HIE makes this possible.
Benefits of Health Information Exchange (HIE)
HIE, which is an acronym for Electronic Health Information Exchange, may be an unfamiliar term to our ears, but it has a large and important role and an integral part of the healthcare system today, as we know the importance and role of electronic health records (EHR).
And how it has taken the initiative to improve efficiency and improve patient care significantly, and how it has a role for health service providers in making decisions and other positive outcomes.
The real value of HIE comes in data standardization practices, where centralized data can be integrated into a user’s EHR, a process that makes health information more personalized, further improving patient care, and enabling each service provider to communicate and access.
Sharing timely data can help clinicians and patients make better decisions at the point of care.
Specific benefits of HIE include:
- Better healthcare interoperability among healthcare providers
- Avoid unnecessary data re-entry
- Saving money through avoiding repeated tests. If physicians can see the results of recent tests, they won’t need to order tests again
- High quality of care
- Patient engagement regarding their own health condition
For example, a study by James Bailey and colleagues showed that when healthcare providers in emergency departments used HIE to access records of patients with headache, they were less likely to order costly medical imaging scans (such as CT scans) and were more likely to follow evidence-based guidelines.
Types of Health Information Exchange (HIE)
There are three main forms of HIE:
Directed Exchange of health information allows healthcare providers who know and trust each other to send and receive information about a patient.
Service providers also use this type of exchange to report quality metrics or immunization data.
The transfer of health information is secured and encrypted via specific protocols to retain patient data privacy and security while exchanging over the internet.
There should be a trustful relationship between the facilities that exchange patient health information.
Query-based Exchange allows providers to search for and/or request information about a patient from other sources.
This type of HIE commonly happens in emergency care, where healthcare professionals (HCPs) try to reach specific information about the patient condition like medical images, medication lists, or medical history for a patient who is not already managed by this HCP.
Consumer-mediated exchange allows healthcare consumers to access and manage their own health information.
They can share information with other healthcare providers over the internet in a secured and encrypted way.
Patients can access and share their own health information via personal health record applications and it includes multiple information like:
- Medical history
- Vital signs
- Laboratory test reports
- Radiology scan reports
- Medication list
- Chronic diseases
- Surgical operations
- Medical reports
and much more information depends on the patient’s condition and the availability of this information.
This way of health information exchange (HIE) allows the patient to own, manage, and share their health information which increases patient engagement in their own health condition.
Patient Consent to HIE
HIE has various arrangements to allow patients to control how their information is made available to be shared among healthcare organizations and how it is used:
Subscribe to Share
The default is not to share patient health information. Patients must express their desire to share all or only part of their information
The default is that patient health information is available to share. If they wish to prevent all or part of their information from being shared, patients should actively express this wish
Health information is available to share, and patients cannot opt-out.
With the current COVID-19 crisis, Health Information Exchange (HIE) is becoming clearer in the countries that have already adopted and implemented it.
HIE plays a very important role in exchanging data, facilitating the ability of frontline personnel to save lives every day and everywhere.
Here are real-world examples of how HIEs are prioritized in response efforts:
Compilation of test and alert results: HIEs coordinate directly with public health officials, providers, and laboratories to increase case awareness and to better prepare caregivers for interventions with affected patients.
Population health monitoring and analytics: Due to their role as data aggregators, many Health Information Exchange systems implement tools like healthcare data analytics to assess trends and inform decision-makers to make responses.
Broader Coordination Across Communities: Many HIEs partner with clinical and social organizations within the community, and use their infrastructure to provide broader support and access even to non-HIE participants.