Verb or Not, HIE Making News

A verb or not, HIE rounded up for the past week

Anthony Brino, Associate Editor
Government Health IT

HIEs, of course, are still growing and adapting, some more proficient in their native tongue than others. Here’s a summary of recent HIE news:

Pilots in West Virginia incorporate end of life registry

The West Virginia Health Information Network launched two new pilots for its statewide HIE, with Wheeling Hospitals and West Virginia University Healthcare. The HIE, using Truven Health Analytics, lets providers access the clinical information of more than 2.1 million patients, including lab results, diagnosis history, allergies (2.4 million) and patient visit history.

Notably, the HIE connects with the West Virginia e-Directive Registry, apparently making it one of the first exchanges to integrate end of life care choices made by patients, giving providers access to living wills, durable medical power of attorney and other end of life care-related documents.

As has often been the case, the question of long-term funding still needs an answer.

Rochester RHIO expanded, focused on internal use

In New York, the Rochester Regional Health Information Organization is now covering a large swath of the western part of the state after Arnot Health system joined, and now the HIE is focused on building usage within its network, which spans 13 counties from the Pennsylvania-New York border to Lake Ontario.

The Rochester RHIO was created in 2006, and is now financing operations with revenue streams from usage-based service fees and subscriptions. At last count, it had 1,425 connected physicians, delivering nearly 500,000 clinical results each month, with some 700,000 consenting patients.

Using OptumInsight’s HIE platform, the goal is now to build provider useage within the several dozen health systems in its network.

HIEs and the regulator on the Kansas Prairie

Kansas’ two largest health systems are now sharing data on a provider-based HIE — while the state’s quasi-governmental HIE board is considering dissolving itself.

Just as Wesley Medical Center and Via Christi Health started sharing clinical data through the provider-based Wichita Health Information Exchange, the online newsletter EHR Intelligence stoked a bit of controversy with a report suggesting that the state’s public-private would-be-regulating, possibly-disbanding board — the Kansas Health Information Exchange, Inc. — is overcompensated, has “hemorrhaged money” and “is no longer needed in its current capacity.”

It’s question for stakeholders whether or not KHIE is still needed as an independent regulator or can be folded into the state’s health agency, as has been proposed. It turns out, though, that that EHR Intelligence report got the compensation issue wrong: the board is not compensated.

Bill Wallace, KHIE board CEO and (former Blue Cross Blue Shield Kansas CIO), took to NHIN Watch to correct that report and defend the board. Wallace wrote that the KHIE board helped lay the legal foundation for Kansas HIEs and reconciling Kansas law with Federal HIPAA legislation.

Ohio docs jump into immunization registry

In Ohio, two physician practices have successfully tested sending immunization data to the state health department from their electronic health records through two HIES, one of them a part of the Greater Cincinnati Beacon Collaboration, one of 17 health IT model communities funded by the ONC.

The Ohio Department of Health has established a statewide immunization registry, ImpactSIIS, an interactive system that administers, delivers and tracks vaccinations in the state. The registry is then made available to medical providers to make certain that children and adults are fully vaccinated and that immunizations are not duplicated unnecessarily.


At Institute for Health Technology Transformation conference in Seattle, in addition to doing as Seattle coffee drinkers do, mHIMSS reports on talks over HIE financial sustainability and whether they’re getting their right investments.

But that uncertainty is what makes this both an exciting and a challenging time to be in healthcare, said Lynne Dunbrack, who pointed out that the HIE space is one of the fastest growing and most dynamic markets in healthcare,

Brian Ahier, a health IT evangelist for Mid-Columbia Medical Center, said the market won’t take off until its participants learn to share.

“Successful organizations are no longer going to seek a competitive advantage,” he said. ‘They are going to seek a cooperative advantage.”

An HIE longread

And for readers looking for a weekend longread, Government Technology magazine has a very fascinating article on the state of HIEs, showing “a patchwork quilt with widely varied levels of activity and success.”

“With limited grant funding and tight time frames, others also are re-evaluating ambitious goals of creating an infrastructure that would allow searching for patient records across hospitals and doctors’ offices statewide. Instead, states are downshifting to more incremental plans that start with enabling email connections between providers or that focus on supporting state Medicaid organizations.”

Anthony Brino is Associate Editor at Government Health IT. This article first appeared on Government Health IT on August 23, 2012.