HIE Formation Part X: Reaching Out For Assistance

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

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 is Part 10 of the series. You can access previous installments at the HIELights e-newsletter archives.

At some point, possibly at several points on your journey, you’re going to get stuck.

It will seem that an important part of the project – or possibly the entire project – is stuck in neutral and you’ve stopped making forward progress.  Don’t despair.  It happens on all projects, including HIE formation projects.  In this month’s column, we’ll discuss the types of situations in which you might perceive you’re stuck – and how to go about resolving the issue so you can continue your forward progress.

By being stuck, we mean that you’ve hit a point where you recognize that you need some additional outside information, or examples, or support, in order to continue.  When this happens, it’s time to work with your consultants to identify and secure the specific type(s) of information or support that’s needed.

Where could you get stuck?  In doing the research for our book, we spoke with many HIE leaders.  Many admitted that they occasionally got stuck—or were at least temporarily slowed down in their efforts—when it came to producing:

  • Their governance model.
  • A pro forma budget.
  • Privacy policies.
  • Their technical architecture.
  • A comprehensive and clear RFP.
  • The evaluation criteria and weighting factors used to evaluate RFP responses.
  • A list of HIE services.

If you’re partnered with an experienced HIE consultant, they should be able to share a wide range of examples of approaches, templates and techniques that have proven successful in other HIE formation efforts.  Some of those items may be from their own HIE formation experience; others could be based on their research into leading HIE formation practices.  Often, just being able to see how some other successful HIE approached an issue, or organized and structured a document, is all it takes to get moving again.

If you’re on this journey without an experienced HIE consultant, securing examples of approaches, templates and techniques is a bit more difficult but certainly not impossible.  The first step is to remember that others have made this journey.  We have found that the majority of the HIEs with we have been in contact are more than willing to share their experiences and help other organizations.  This seems especially true in the HIE arena since the whole purpose of an HIE is to share information.

So, where do you start?  One place to begin your search for resources is the HIMSS State HIE Dashboard. From here, you can navigate to HIEs in various stages of formation. Contact information is typically provided.

Remember, others have made this journey ahead of you.  Most are willing to share their experiences and examples. But first, you have to ask. After you are successfully moving again you may be in a position to return the favor by helping some other organization that’s gotten slowed down or stuck on their HIE formation journey. Enjoy the journey. It’s worth the effort – and our patients are depending on us to get this right!

Laura Kolkman, RN, MS, FHIMSS is the President of Mosaica Partners and Bob Brown is the VP of Professional Services. Their book—The Health Information Exchange Formation Guidewas published by HIMSS in Februar, 2011. View the HIMSS’ companion web site to read chapter summaries and download select tables, figures, illustrations and checklists.