HIEs only add value to patient encounters when clinicians are connected to them. The capability to provide clinical information exchange is a great tool for clinicians when they have access, and know how to effectively use these services in the context of care. While one desirable end state for the industry would be for all clinicians to have access to all of a patient’s data through the clinician’s native (and hopefully improved) EHR, a combination of data, application, and network silos make this nearly impossible to achieve today. This limits the value proposition to a physician and subsequently use of an HIE.
But an even bigger issue is on the horizon that requires strong interoperability across clinical venues, the move to value-base reimbursement and enabling population health management strategies. HCOs are flying blind if they cannot effectively understand the population they serve. HIT vendors certainly understand this and have begun, partially due to customer prodding and secondly, their own self-interests to take the issue of interoperability seriously.
The CommonWell Health Alliance and Carequality are two different HIT-vendor driven initiatives that aim to tackle the interoperability challenge. While many HIT vendors are watching these initiatives closely their HCO customers are not. If these two initiatives are even partially successful they will help to commoditize the technology elements found in today’s HIEs. For this reason, we think that HCOs should be paying closer attention to both of these efforts.