As each state prepares to launch Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), it is important to keep in mind the goals of the effort. I believe this is more difficult than one may think at first blush. But, trustees of these HIEs need to move beyond a “motherhood and apple pie” approach of saying the purpose of an HIE is to reduce cost and improve quality and safety.
The cost question is very complicated. After all, one stakeholder’s expense is another’s revenue. Is the goal to reduce the cost to the State? The Patient? The Payors? The Providers of healthcare?
Take duplicate testing. Certainly an HIE has the ability to enable the reduction of duplicate testing by giving providers instant access to results stored in other providers Electronic Health Records. That is a win for the Patients, States and Payors. But, that will have an impact on provider revenue. If the HIE requires all parties to mutually support initiatives there is a strong potential for stalemate.
To complicate this even further…just because a provider has access to the results from another provider does not prevent the provider from ordering a duplicate test. I have overheard other organizations leaders suggest that they should not trust results from other providers and that re-ordering expensive tests is the best care. Unless the HIEs tackle that concern they may not achieve the benefits that they seek.
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