The eHealth Initiative (eHI) released the survey “The State of Health Information Exchange in 2010: Connecting the Nation to Achieve Meaningful Use.” The survey was presented before several hundred state and industry leaders gathered at eHI’s National Forum on Health Information Exchange held July 22nd in Washington D.C.
For seven years, eHI has been tracking the progress of HIE initiatives. This year, eHI identified 234 active HIE initiatives across the country and out of those HIE initiatives, 199 organizations responded to eHI’s annual survey.
Keynote speaker Farzad Mostashari, M.D., Deputy National Coordinator of Programs and Policy, Office of the National Coordinator for HIT, told the attendees that he is happy with the meaningful use rulemaking process since the process enables the right steps to be taken in the public’s interest. He said, “The new regulation provides change but yet it is achievable. The goal is to build on what we have today, build on with what is available, and lastly, do what is in the patient’s interest.”
Several key findings emerged from the survey such as:
• There is continued growth in the number of HIE initiatives, and growth in HIEs that are operational. Today, there are 73 operational initiatives up from 57 in 2009
• Sustainability is an attainable goal for HIE organizations but there is a small but critical mass of sustainable organizations. Initiatives receive start-up funds from a variety of sources. State grants are still the main source of funding for initiatives that are not state designated entities. Federal grants are a close third to state funds but providers in general have assumed a more significant role with respect to funding
• States and State Designated Entities have varying perspectives of their purpose and forty entities surveyed see their role as planning for HIEs
• Despite recent funding, significant challenges exist to support provider attainment of meaningful use. The survey showed that despite expanding capabilities, the ability of HIEs to support providers as they become Stage 1 meaningful users will be challenged by the current number of operational exchanges and the current capacity of HIE initiatives
• New challenges are rapidly emerging related to federal policy and governance of the HIEs.
• More organizations are reporting cost savings through reductions in staff time and have reduced redundant testing through the use of the health information exchange
• Patient engagement has increased dramatically and health information exchange initiatives have increased their focus on patients
• Initiatives are creating methods to address the complexities of security and privacy. More organizations are creating systems that allow patients to control the level of access to their information
“There is definite progress, but it doesn’t mean that we can rest on our laurels,” noted Jennifer Covich Bordenick, CEO, eHealth Initiative. “More initiatives and providers need to document cost savings, and promote services that involve patients in their healthcare.”
To download the report and to see an interactive map of health information exchange activity, go to www.ehealthinitiative.org.