The Business Case for Interoperability and Health Information Exchange

Source: HIMSS HIE and I&S Committees

September 1, 2014

Members of the 2013-2014 HIMSS Health Information Exchange and Interoperability & Standards Committees formed a joint workgroup to develop this comprehensive and informative business case for the adoption of HIE and interoperability across the healthcare industry. The resulting white paper demonstrates the commonalities between the healthcare industry and other major industries - such as the telephone and banking industries - that have undergone significant transformation through the adoption of interoperable practices, technologies and policies. Readers will learn about both the challenges and benefits of this undertaking, with attention to costs and stakeholder responsibilities, as well as the positive outcomes for all stakeholders that not only justify but insist upon successful implementation.

The paper offers a real-world perspective on the hurdles that still lay ahead, and provides a series of recommendations toward advancing interoperability in the United States in such a way that sustainability is ensured, and the culture of interoperability becomes natural and accepted, both within the healthcare community and beyond. Additional resources and references are also provided throughout the paper to guide readers in developing a thorough understanding of the current state of the industry, and what needs to be done to move forward.

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Recommendations: Tasks to Move the Needle Forward to Realize Value

The imperative of health information exchange is now, but in the drive to move from EHRs to information exchange, several tasks still lay ahead.  HIMSS envisions a world where we move from static data to a liquid interoperable future, but to advance interoperability toward this goal, there are still challenging tasks ahead.  Many of these tasks will require consensus building within the healthcare industry and the development of new policies, laws and ideas that have not yet been conceived or imagined.  Each task towards recognizing the business value of HIE also requires an understanding of the problems of the current status quo within health information technology, and a change in the U.S healthcare system to a “culture” of interoperability.  

The tasks that lie ahead for HIE can be framed at a high level as follows:

  • Advocating to improve the mismatch of regulation and policy that hinder and delay clinical interoperability needs
  • Defining a clear path to a data economy – an ecosystem where data is liquid but protected
  • Correcting the perception of HIE as financial overhead, and building alignment of HIE to new payment models
  • Ending the use of proprietary architectures as healthcare innovation and technology accelerate
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