This short paper describes the trends within Meaningful Use and the continuum of care that are driving health information exchange (HIE), and provides examples of areas where HIE can facilitate the achievement of MU guidelines and other care continuum needs such as medication reconciliation, patient adherence and family involvement.
Meaningful Use, HIE and the Continuum of Care
Health Information Exchange organizations (HIOs) provide the services needed to support fulfillment of many Meaningful Use (MU) requirements focused on the sharing of information. This can present some fairly unique challenges to both HIOs and the larger healthcare community as MU requirements seek to push the bar in improving both overall continuity of care for patients and provider/hospital communication.
Trends Driving Health Information Exchange
There are three specific trends within the care continuum that are drivers of health information exchange:
- Activation of the Patient – As the patient becomes more involved in their own care, the availability of more information can lead them to become more engaged in educating themselves.
- Disruptive Technologies – The amount of data that is generated for potential information exchange is growing rapidly, increasing the availability and accessibility of new information.
- Switch from Volume to Value – As provider reimbursement focuses more on the value of the care delivered, and less on the volume of patients cared for, the type and quality of information providers may share with patients and each other to support continuity of care will likely become radically different.
While an HIO can assist in sharing information across the care continuum, and while MU requirements are a driver for providers to share more information, it is not enough to simply meet the “letter of the law” in improving sharing practices. For each of these three trends, MU regulations – combined with other regulatory mechanisms – have started to address care continuum improvements through HIE.
However, there is much work left to be done. The focus of HIOs has tended to lean more toward supporting the sharing of structured clinical information, and less on these more specialized trends, such as sharing unstructured or patient-generated data.