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RHIOs Looking Worse than Predicted

by John Moore | December 16, 2007

A September post provided commentary on numbers the Health IT Transition Group released from their survey on the Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIO) market. Having surveyed roughly 20% of the RHIOs and extrapolating that data as indicative of the overall market, their findings were not that encouraging.

Now it is getting downright depressing.

Last week, the Health Affairs Journal released a paper, The State of Regional Health Information Organizations: Current Activities and Financing. Authored by a doctoral candidate and several professors from Harvard, the report is one of the more comprehensive and objective reviews on the status of RHIOs. Some quick numbers:

  • Of the 145 RHIOs identified in the summer of 2006, 25% were defunct by early 2007.
  • Of those still operating, only 18% are functioning at what the authors term a modest scale and less than 14% of the RHIOs have actually exchanged clinical data.
  • Roughly 40% of those operating are highly dependent on grants, while 45% of RHIOs have not used grants to fund their operation.

One of the more interesting findings is that while grants allow an RHIO to quickly establish itself, it has a perverse affect of not forcing the entity to address the challenge of what will sustain it longer term. Could this be what has led to so many failures as many of the early RHIOs were grant funded.

Granted, what RHIOs are trying to accomplish is extremely challenging, but such poor results as this after the millions of dollars that have been spent to date really calls into question as to whether or not RHIOs are the best path to follow. There are alternatives and hopefully the powers that be are reassessing their options.

Very good report and well worth the read.

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