Why Health Information Exchange (HIE) is Important to Independent Practices

This month’s compliance and regulatory update is on the topic of Health Information Exchange (HIE), which is defined as the electronic transmission of healthcare-related data. Although HIE typically refers to the act of exchanging information, it may also refer to an organization that is responsible for facilitating the exchange such as immunization registries.

The purpose of the HIE is to improve the appropriate, secure access and retrieval of a patient’s health information, for a variety of reasons.

HIE helps enable care coordination, by sharing patient information between two organizations to facilitate the delivery of healthcare services. This offers a more complete view of the patient, reducing duplicate tests, treatments, and the risk of error. Each organization has the information necessary to provide better patient care. HIE encourages patient engagement, as a patient’s information is readily available from a mobile application, website or portal.

HIE can also be used to improve population health, monitoring disease outbreaks, vaccine status for both children and adults, and other population anomalies. Based on this consolidated information, better treatment and care can be developed.

Tebra recently integrated with NC HealthConnex, as part of a state initiative for providers that accept state-funded insurance. At the present time, patient information is only transmitted to the HIE. Information can not be incorporated into the physician’s EHR directly, but physicians may view other HIE data via a portal hosted by NC HealthConnex.

All HIEs must comply with HIPAA, which establishes a baseline applied across all 50 states. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act expanded this baseline, further protecting personal health information (PHI) with the implementation of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR).

FHIR is a secure standard, designed to enable health data, both clinical and administrative, to be quickly and efficiently exchanged. As FHIR grows as the preferred exchange framework, the more healthcare exchanges on the local, regional, state and federal level can grow.

Independent practices will benefit from health information exchange in a multitude of ways. Providers will be able to access patient healthcare information from other organizations, other providers and testing facilities at the time of the patient’s visit. As more information is available on these health information exchanges, providers will have information available for individuals who may be traveling in the region and need emergency assistance.

Practices should also see a reduction in the amount of reporting to registries that they may need to complete as information can be automatically sent from the EHR to those specific registries. All in all, HIE will enhance healthcare for the individual provider, the patient and the national as a whole.

Visit us at Kareo.com to find out how our technology platform can help you effortlessly manage all major functions of your (or your client's) independent healthcare practice.

About the Author

Beth currently serves as an advisor to the Kareo EHR product and engineering teams for clinical enhancements, CMS Incentive program requirements, and other industry/...

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