HIE Formation Part III: Choosing Your Companions

In this series of monthly articles, based in part on their recently published book, the authors discuss current HIE related events and leading practices within the context of forming an HIE initiative in your state, region or community. This series of articles was launched in the March 2011 issue of HIELights.

By Laura Kolkman, RN, MS, FHIMSS, and Bob Brown

In our April column we “HIELighted” the essential things you’ll need to begin your journey to successfully forming an HIE and moving into operations:

  • Appropriate and adequate supplies
  • The companions who’ll be joining you
  • A well defined destination, and
  • A map

While the healthcare press is currently full of news concerning the attestation rules for Meaningful Use, comments about the efficacy of some of the PCAST recommendations and the latest EHR and health IT vendor acquisitions and mergers, your attention and energy needs to be focused on the journey ahead—and, specifically, on the people who’ll be walking side by side with you on that journey.

Presume that with a little help, you can define your destination and even put together a roadmap of the required initiatives and the decisions that you’ll have to make along the way. You can. That leaves the people who’ll be joining you. This is the group of women and men who will come together to define and accomplish a quest. Building an HIE from the ground up is like that. It can be likened to an epic journey. It’s certainly more complicated – and a whole lot more important – than planning a trip to the supermarket or hardware store. Who you’ll have at your side is extremely important. We believe the ability to locate, recruit and engage your core and extended teams is a critical success factor in any large change management effort, including an HIE formation effort. While you’ll typically want a diverse set of skills and experience, you should also be looking for a shared vision.

When it comes to companions to accompany you on the journey, you should be looking for people who – regardless of their political views – believe that the availability of, and access to, personal health information is essential to improving healthcare outcomes, healthcare service levels and reducing healthcare costs. Those are the three big goals of the HIE movement and if the folks you’ll be traveling with don’t believe in that – or don’t feel motivated to do something about it – then they’re the wrong people. Don’t settle.

It doesn’t take a huge team to be successful.  It takes a core team unified by a shared vision and the sure knowledge that building a sustainable operating HIE in your state, region or community can, and will, be achieved. Find those kind of individuals for your core team. Then trust them to help you identify and recruit additional people who also believe in the quest. Onward!

Laura Kolkman, RN, MS, FHIMSS, is the president of Mosaica Partners and Bob Brown is the vice president of Professional Services. Their book, The Health Information Exchange Formation Guide, was published by HIMSS in February. HIMSS companion website, where you can read chapter summaries and download select tables, figures, illustrations and checklists, is available at: www.himss.org/hieformationguide.