The origin of HIEs

The concept of a Health Information Exchange (HIE) has been around in some form for over 30 years. They were initially built from the idea that a patient’s longitudinal record could, and should, eventually become available for reference at the point of care. The goal was primarily for using aggregated clinical data to improve current healthcare models, which by extension would improve patient outcomes. Since then we’ve discovered many ways to make use of these patient data repositories.

However, despite the many evident benefits, HIEs are still not universally adopted or utilised. HIE initiatives are continuing to leverage information and analytics to improve decisions around care planning and treatments.

In this blog, we look at understanding why HIEs are so important and the short and long-term benefits they offer. 

Hubs for sharing clinical information in the healthcare community

The concept of HIEs in healthcare is simple: to improve the quality, coordination, and cost-effectiveness of healthcare in respective communities. HIEs help disparate healthcare systems such as hospitals, clinicians, labs, and community-based healthcare organisations to share patient-level health information to provide better care, better outcomes, and ultimately lower costs.

The benefits of HIE systems are many, and evident across many different groups. Patients are likely to experience significant improvements in their quality of care and security around their healthcare record. Facilitators benefit from improved lines of communication among providers, which can lead to decreased health care costs; this, in turn, can greatly boost the efficiency and effectiveness of treatment and care delivered. 

With improved communication and data sharing, researchers and government organisations can gain improved access to public health data. This enables informed decision-making about population health needs and the tracking of important data and patterns. This is just a small snapshot of some of the ways various groups benefit from centralised data repositories and HIEs, but some of these long-term benefits are worth unpacking.

Benefits of an HIE

Improved access to data and patient health information (PHI)

Convenient access to PHI in real-time, at the point of care, has immense benefits to improving the overall quality of patient care. Providers and clinicians benefit from improved data access and can make more informed decisions about diagnostics and treatment plans. At the same time, they’re also feeding back critical information into the system for others to make use of later. Anonymised PHI can also be indispensable for healthcare and population health researchers.

 Improved population health and healthcare outcomes

All of the above has measurable benefits on the health and wellbeing of patients. Not only do they benefit from more informed healthcare providers, but they can also enjoy the long-term social benefits of better access to patient health statistics which will help local and state governments make better decisions about public health legislation and funding. This in turn facilitates “fence-at-the-top-of-the-cliff” types of preventative care models which can then influence best practice guidelines and care delivery models.

Secure and convenient inter-organisational collaboration

HIEs are enabling providers to communicate and share information in a secure fashion that not only benefits the patients but also the care team as well. Building care around the patient rather than the more often decontextualized individual consultations, can lower costs associated with patient care, reduce clinical workloads and greatly improve long-term population health outcomes. HIEs have also highlighted some issues around standardisation of medical data that have warranted addressing and the development of improved ways to reliably and securely exchange information between systems.

Introducing the next-generation HIE

Imagine a world where we can identify the right patient, create a custom healthcare plan for them and deliver care in a location that best suits the patient’s needs at the time they need it the most.

To deliver on this vision and address these practical realities, we need to target care more effectively within existing constraints. This calls for a next-generation HIE.

The next-generation HIE presents relevant information in an intelligent and timely manner, has flexibility for emerging and non-traditional data types, organises data so that it is easy to access and use, and provides an innovative ecosystem for future developments.

To read more about how the next generation HIE will revolutionise how healthcare is delivered more efficiently in the future, check out our whitepaper.