Physicians Concerned About HIE Feasibility, Sustainability, and Funding

March 1, 2011



If you’re a physician, chances are you’re either a.) shelling out some big bucks to collect patient data electronically, and/or b.) money is a big consideration for whatever solution your practice uses.

But when it comes to sending that data to a third party through a health information exchange, money isn’t the only big issue that is giving practices and other healthcare industry stakeholders a headache.

According to the majority participants in National eHealth Collaborative’s December 2010 “Stakeholder Survey” - a population of 166 that included healthcare providers as well as consultants, government officials, and vendors - the three issues most likely to potentially derail health information exchange include privacy and security, sustainability, and funding.

Additionally, most respondents flagged adoption and use as a major concern.

Fretting over HIE taking off is nothing new.

Recently health IT consultant Bruce Kleaveland wrote a blog highlighting the positives of HIE, which “basically consists of a service/technology where patient information can be easily ‘moved’ between institutions within a community so that providers have the information they need to deliver effective and efficient car.”

For example, if a patient goes into the emergency room, in a full HIE environment attending physicians are able to pull up an electronic patient summary filed by the patient’s primary care physician.

But though the idea sounds simple, getting bytes and bytes data online, and ensuring electronic systems throughout one region are interoperable so data can “exchange” isn’t an easy feat.

Government grants will help, but “like many important and complicated infrastructure projects [HIE will] involve a fair amount of local bickering, will require a lot of taxpayer money, and will take longer to finish than predicted,” Kleaveland said.

Still, NeHC contends that its survey data “will help to encourage stakeholders from across the health IT community to share solutions and best practices with one another so that we can reach our national goals for health IT,” said Michael Lardiere, an NeHC Board member.
In the very least, it’s a pledge that sounds promising.