A Brief Guide to Health Information Exchange (HIE)

health information exchange

In medicine, the main goal is and always will be the prioritization of patient care. To achieve this, healthcare providers need the ability to exchange patients’ health information when patients move to other practices or have other appointments. A health information exchange (HIE) facilitates this and helps to record health outcomes.

At PracticeForces, we strive to keep physicians informed and help them run successful businesses. Let’s look at what an HIE is, what they do, and some other aspects of HIEs. If you need extra information, consider reading about the causes of physician burnout.

What Is an HIE?

AN HIE has two definitions. First, it is the action of transferring a patient’s electronic health record from one practice to another.

An HIE may also refer to the healthcare organizations that facilitate this action. These organizations provide the frameworks that enable physicians to transfer patient records. Without them, sending patient records would still require mailing them between practices.

Why Is an HIE Important?

An HIE provides improved communication between physicians, allowing for a comprehensive view of patient health and reducing the chances of improper/duplicated treatments, malpractice, and incorrect tests. HIEs provide records for long-term care, helping ensure that every patient continues to receive the care they need. 

How Do HIE Systems Store Data?

A health information exchange uses three different methods to store data. One storage method is “federation,” where physicians keep health records in independent depositories. These secure depositories are only open to other healthcare providers who have access.

A centralized approach holds all health records in a centralized area, usually a single government-run database. These databases are typically open to all healthcare providers.

Hybrid data exchange models have aspects of both federated and centralized exchanges.

What Are Some Challenges to HIEs?

HIEs are very important, and they genuinely do help facilitate communication between practices. However, there are some challenges to using them that these organizations still need to fix, such as:

Low Standards

While some standards for electronic information exchange through an HIE exist, these standards can vary by area. More sweeping and enforceable standardization would ensure that all providers followed the same rules and simplify the HIE system.

Variations in State Privacy Laws

Each state has variations on privacy laws regulating the exchange of healthcare documents. Since these laws vary between states, it’s difficult for providers to send complete records to physicians in states without equivalent laws.

Matching Patients to Their Records

Many healthcare providers have difficulty matching patients to records that other physicians transfer through an HIE. That’s because these systems don’t consider that different offices may use different methods to track info.

Costs Related to the Exchange of Information

There are some costs related to using HIEs, especially when State governments run the databases. Government entities often charge a fee for their services.

Hopefully, now you’re more familiar with what a Health Information Exchange is. PracticeForces works to help physicians manage their accounts and improve their patient relations. We offer more info on HIEs and other services, like this brief guide to telemedicine.

If you need HIE services for your business, call PracticeForces at (727) 499-0351.

Parul Garg, CEO and co-founder of PracticeForces, has significantly contributed to the growth of over 1,000 U.S. medical practices through her expertise in medical billing and coding since the company’s inception in 2003. With a background in Computer Science and an MBA in Human Resources, her leadership and AAPC-certified coding skills have been pivotal in managing the company’s operations effectively.

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