As we begin to enter into the holiday season, a time when many people will travel across the country, across the state or across town to be with loved ones, family and friends, it’s important to take inventory about what you and your family’s health needs might be.
Perhaps you or a loved one:
- is a person with diabetes and will need to diligently monitor blood sugar levels while away;
- will need to fill a medication prescription that may have been overlooked during the chaos of travel preparations;
- recently quit smoking and will need extra support during what can be a very stressful time; and lastly,
- may need emergent care and will have to go to the emergency department.
These issues may not resonate with you directly, but you might have other health considerations that you will need to assess before the holidays.
As many of us within the health IT industry recognize, there isn’t one path forward on how this country will achieve a secure interoperable learning health system, where care will be coordinated and the patient information exchanged will drive impactful results. But, here at HIMSS, we are certainly trying to uncover the bright spots on how health IT brings value to all healthcare stakeholders.
Over the course of the last few years, HIMSS has created a robust tool called the Health IT Value Suite, a framework, or the Value STEPS, and vocabulary that can help organizations better understand their value strategy. This platform also hosts hundreds of real-world examples of how health IT has demonstrated value from several healthcare stakeholders (e.g. hospital, physician, HIE, ACOs, etc.). We know it could be overwhelming when reviewing this tool, so we wanted to focus solely on the value derived from using or participating in Health Information Exchange, or HIE.
If we could revisit the holiday travel examples highlighted above, these examples acutely illustrate the incredible need for successful movement of patient data where and when it is needed to help healthcare stakeholders understand why health information exchange is so critical and often life-saving.
HIMSS has already collected about 200 examples of this type of value that can be directly attributed to HIE. The majority of these examples are concentrated within one of these three value categories, or STEPs: (i) Treatment and Clinical, (ii) Electronic secure data, and (iii) Patient engagement and population management. For those that are familiar with the purpose and key drivers of HIE, it is not too surprising that these are the top three results.
At the highest level, health information exchange provides a technical capability that enables many crucial benefits for providers, patients, and hospitals, including:
- Enhanced care coordination through communication between providers;
- Ensuring access to the right information, at the right time, for providers (including the entire care team), patients and all other stakeholders. HIE is central to facilitating the information to both patients and their loved ones;
- Improving efficiency and reliability through the elimination of unnecessary paperwork and providing caregivers with clinical decision support tools; and
- Improving quality and safety through the reduction of medication, medical errors and near misses.
Our next blog post will explore, and further highlight, how HIE brings value and meaning to the broader healthcare community; we will provide real-world examples of what kind of value medical providers and organizations are attributing to the participation in HIE activities. In the meantime, we hope this gives you some ‘food for thought,’ as you begin to mentally prepare yourselves for the holiday season.
The Stowe Group (2015). Health Information Exchange. Retrieved from http://www.stowegroup.com/capabilities/health-information-exchange/
HIMSS (2014). FAQ: Health Information Exchange (HIE). HIMSS Health Information Exchange Committee. Retrieved from http://www.himss.org/library/health-information-exchange/FAQ