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Stretching it – Just a Bit

by John Moore | August 20, 2013

One of our objectives here at Chilmark Research is to provide clarity to the healthcare IT market sector. This is not always an easy task. Time and again we see vendors stretch the truth in the hopes that no one will call them out. Years ago, I wrote a post called “Where’s the Beef?” Needless to say, that post received quite a reaction.

Now it is time to author a similar post.

Last week, Surescripts announced that 19 organizations have joined its national health information network, which they also claimed is the largest in the country. Among those 19 organizations listed are such companies as Cerner, ICA and Quest Diagnostics as well as over a dozen public HIEs and the healthcare organization, UPMC.

At first blush this sounds like Surescripts is indeed becoming the de facto NwHIE that we predicted may occur. That perspective is reinforced by articles written in the trade press on this announcement. However, when one digs deeper what we really uncover is a press release that combines a number of disparate HIE concepts and constructs that are a stretched to the breaking point in order to promote Surescripts as the leading national HIE. These concepts and constructs include:

Giving a perception that such organizations as Cerner, ICA, and others are using Surescripts HIE technology.
When we checked in with Cerner, we were informed that the only “HIE-like connection” with Surescripts outside of its e-Prescribing relationship, was via Direct Trust of which both are members. Direct Trust is an organization facilitating trusted exchange (address privacy & security issues), via Direct Secure Messaging (DSM), across Health Information Service Providers (HISPs). Surescripts, Cerner, ICA and a number of public HIEs are accredited via Direct Trust and therefore can exchange DSM directly from HISP to HISP. It is quite a stretch to go from each organization receiving accreditation from a third party service to laying claim to being the one to facilitate exchange across all entities named in the release.

Surescripts is providing only specific HIE enabling modules, not a full-fledged, interoperable HIE solution. 
Surescripts has been able to pull together what is arguably the most comprehensive national provider directory via its e-Prescribing services. The company is now looking to leverage that directory for HIE needs, which is potentially a very valuable service offering. But to go from simply providing one very small, albeit important piece in an HIE technology stack to laying claim that they are the “nation’s largest health information sharing network” is disingenuous and again, stretching it.

Now don’t get us wrong, Surescripts certainly is in the HIE market and is profiled in our latest 2013 HIE Market Trends Report. Surescripts, along with its acquired partner Kryptiq is doing some very good work here in taking a grounds-up approach to HIE via collaborative messaging, which has now been adopted by a number of EHR vendors, including Epic, GE, NextGen and Vitera.

What really gets under our skin is this muddying of the waters. The HIE market is already confusing enough and many in healthcare simply do not understand all the nuances within this market sector. When a press release such as the one Surescripts released last week hits the wires, we get a lot of inquiries as to what does this mean to the market. Frankly, it means little and if anything, detracts from what Surescripts is doing well.

Hopefully, in the future, Surescripts will reconsider its marketing approach and focus more on providing clarity to a market that sorely needs it.


Addendum: The vendor that we dragged over the coals in the Where’s the Beef post took it well and we have maintained a close relationship with them for many years now. May Surescripts take this post just as well.

3 responses to “Stretching it – Just a Bit”

  1. WHPIF says:

    You once wrote “Wheres the Beef” and I think another time “that the emperor had no clothes” perhaps it is time for a Dr Suess story?

    Why do we need HIE”s won’t the patients be using blue button to exchange data here and there and everywhere? Won’t they be able to do it in a box? Won’t they be able to do it with a fox? 😉

    • John says:

      How about…
      Oh the places you will go

      That’s how I feel sometimes as this market gets whipsawed by one comment or another.

      Thanks for dropping by and posting a comment – keep them coming.

  2. Daniel Davis says:

    NASHVILLE, Tenn., May 21, 2013 (BUSINESS WIRE) — ICA, a leading provider of interoperability technology that enables care coordination and health information exchange (HIE), announced today it has achieved full accreditation with the Direct Trusted Agent Accreditation Program (DTAAP) for Registration Authority (RA), Certificate Authority (CA)and Health Information Service Provider (HISP) from DirectTrust.org and the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC). Direct Trusted Agent accreditation recognizes excellence in health data processing and transactions, and ensures compliance with industry-established standards, HIPAA regulations and the Direct Project.

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