I get this question all the time from people I meet: What is a Healthcare Information Exchange (HIE)? Great question. I didn’t really know until I started to work for Indiana Health Information Exchange (IHIE). Most of the people who claim to be in Healthcare don’t know either.
My elevator pitch as to about IHIE is as follows: “IHIE is the largest health information exchange in the country. IHIE acts as a traffic copy, delivering patient healthcare information to where the data is needed at the time it is needed to improve patient care.”.
So how does this happen at IHIE? Let me start by saying that 87 different health care organizations contribute patient data to IHIE. Types of data include lab data, admission and discharge notices, patient records, x-ray images, prescriptions, etc. IHIE adds most of the data to a large database, and then makes it available to healthcare providers under certain situations, such as admission to an Emergency Room or hospital. So how does that help a patient? Since IHIE has a large number of hospitals and labs contributing data, there is a good chance that a patient’s data will comprise inputs from other hospitals, labs, etc. That wide view can provide the attending nurses and doctors insights that they wouldn’t have without it. Imagine, for a second, an unconscious patient that was just brought in to the Emergency Room. Where does a physician start? Does the patient have any previous conditions, and to what is the status of the condition? Is the patient allergic to anything? What previous tests have been completed? If the original healthcare provider was a contributor, there is a good chance IHIE has the data.
In addition, IHIE acts as a virtual courier, delivering documents (lab results, CCDS) to doctors. IHIE does that in the form the doctor prefers. Commonly, that will be via a portal, imported into the doctor’s patient management system, or as a fax (Believe it or not, this is the still the most popular method.)
In order to improve healthcare in Indiana, IHIE also passes immunization and disease information over to the Indiana Department of Health. The Indiana Department of Health reviews the data looking for efforts like identifying outbreaks for flu, etc.
Much like your bank statement, the access and handling of your personal health information is covered by federal and state regulations, such as Health Information Portability Privacy Act (HIPPA). In fact, a great deal of effort and money goes into protecting and securing the data to ensure the data is kept secure.
I like to tell people I have the coolest job ever. I work in the largest health information exchange in the country at a time when the healthcare industry is getting turned on it’s head. How cool is that?
Thanks for coming in today.