What is a health information exchange?

What is a health information exchange?

Patient health information often needs to be shared between multiple providers, laboratories, testing sites, and healthcare facilities. When that information is maintained in paper files, the primary care provider must call or fax a request to the other providers or rely on the patient to bring the records to a visit. Sometimes, information from another specialty provider visit is dependent on the patient’s memory. All of these strategies can result in delays, duplications, omissions, and errors.

Health information exchanges (HIEs) are more efficient and accurate ways for “health care providers and patients to appropriately access and securely share a patient’s vital medical information electronically,” as stated by the Health Information Technology (IT) office. Data that is transferred via HIEs is typically then incorporated into the patient’s electronic health record (EHR) so the primary care physician has immediate access to critical information regarding that patient.

Patient information that is shared using advanced tools such as Collaborative Health Records (CHR) is more dependable and can be transferred in a timelier manner. Elation’s CHR solution enables primary care providers to automatically share updates directly from the Clinical EHR. Other providers get immediately notified so they can take action based on the most up-to-date clinical information.

The Health IT office describes three key forms of health information exchange:

  • Directed Exchange – ability to send and receive secure information electronically between care providers to support coordinated care
  • Query-based Exchange – ability for providers to find and/or request information on a patient from other providers, often used for unplanned care
  • Consumer Mediated Exchange – ability for patients to aggregate and control the use of their health information among providers

Efficient, accurate information is made available to all providers and healthcare facilities caring for a patient through HIEs. Electronic communication between providers and between the patient and providers can be a useful tool in expediting requests for information as well. HIEs can significantly improve the data a provider has available regarding a patient’s care and, subsequently, improve the level of care that physician is able to provide the patient.