Last year, I participated in the HIMSS Health Information Exchange (HIE) Case Studies Task Force. The goal I set out to accomplish was defining obstacles, as well as identifying potential solutions addressing patient and provider engagement strategies. Other members of the task force focused on public health initiatives or utilizing HIE data analytics for MACRA reporting.
I originally did not know much about HIEs, except that HIEs exchange personal health information in a HIPAA-compliant manner to other participating healthcare organizations. The amount of time needed by an HIE to integrate the data and complete a standard-compliant transfer of information was foreign to me.
Each member of the task force received an HIE to interview on their respective topics. This process was time-consuming but worth the effort to learn and share about the initiatives taking place at these HIEs. For many of us, contacting an HIE and setting up an interview with the appropriate person was the first challenge. We then integrated the information we gathered from the interview into a case study template for publication.
I was extremely fortunate to interview Sue-Ann Villano, the senior director of client services & marketing & outreach at the NY Care Information Gateway (NYCIG). She has been instrumental in making this case study a success, and I am deeply honored to have had her as an interviewee.
Throughout this process, I noticed a common theme: HIEs have a broad reach and encompass so many stakeholders, which makes it challenging to directly contact different individuals who can speak about the value that public HIEs can provide. More resources are necessary to launch a marketing campaign that truly educates the people they touch.
Within NYCIG, I interviewed the regional health information organization (RHIO), also known as a public HIE, and learned that continuous turnover in senior leadership and front-desk staff at healthcare organizations is the biggest barrier to their success in patient/caregiver engagement. This turnover leads to disruptions in achieving the primary goals of the organization, and thus, fewer patients consenting to share their data via the HIE.
What I found most interesting was the “Break the Glass” process. This is at the core of the RHIO’s mission. This process occurs when a clinician queries the RHIO database to obtain personal health information of a patient who is unable to respond and utilize that data to save a patient’s life.
It was a pleasure working with such an insightful team, and I have gained a lot of knowledge throughout this process. I hope to be a part of a HIMSS task force or workgroup again next year and continue to grow my knowledge within the Interoperability & Health Information Exchange content area.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.
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Updated March 11, 2020