Spread of Health Information Exchange Across the Nation

Spread of Health Information Exchange Across the Nation

Spread of Health Information Exchange Across the Nation

As health informatics continues to surge, key components of the discipline are doing the same. The use of electronic health records (EHRs) continues to be encouraged throughout the nation, with the goal of providing more unified care. The way in which providers across the globe provide some of the best care involves electronic exchange of vital health information. Though it has many definitions from a variety of credible sources, Braunstein (2014) says “Health information exchange (HIE) is the key component of health informatics through which various electronic record systems is shared and is potentially transformative for the healthcare system” (p. 55). The ability for providers to exchange information with one another and encourage patient involvement in their care creates a realm of next level healthcare that our world is steadily striving for.

Current State of HIE Across the United States

Introducing incentives is one approach to encouraging change amongst a large group, a tactic the federal government has used to encourage the use and innovation of new technology in healthcare nationwide. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has enacted programs that encourage the adoption and advancement of health information exchange (HIE). According to ONC, the State Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement Program announced in 2010, it would financially award states that met the requirements for exchanging health information across health systems and state lines (ONC, 2019). An underlying driving force beneath all the efforts and initiatives is to achieve interoperability on a grand scale, defined as “the ability of diverse systems and organizations to work together” (Braunstein, 2014, p. 97). In an ONC data brief, Patel et al. (2019) analyze the interoperability between office-based providers and summarize the benefits of the use of EHRs and how it directly encourages sharing information and providers working together. The professionals state in the highlight of their data brief “Physicians who used certified EHRs and participated in value-based payment models had higher rates of engaging in each of the 4 domains of interoperability compared to their counterparts” (Patel et al., 2019). A fascinating statistic ahead of Figure 1 states “Physicians’ rates of electronically finding or querying health information from outside sources increased by 50% between 2015 and 2017” (p. 1). The data provided in this ONC data brief displays a consistent correlation between the use and adoption of EHRs and the likelihood of providers to exchange health information and encourage widespread interoperability. It is safe to say, the usage and application of HIT and HIE is steadily increasing and becoming a norm for providers nationwide. Spread of Health Information Exchange Across the Nation

HIE Findings in the State of Texas

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According to the 2011 report from ONC, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) was awarded over $28 million as part of the State Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement Program. This award facilitated further advancement and progression in HIE for the healthcare industry. As reported by The National Opinion Research Center in a case study evaluating the progression in the state of Texas, they state “Texas’ approach to HIE is a thin-layer strategy focused on promoting local HIE solutions based on community needs… Texas has a population of over 25 million distributed among several large metropolitan areas and geographically vast rural areas. Stakeholders believe a single network approach is not adequate for a state of this size and diversity” (NORC, n.d., p. 5). The state is focused on less of a centralized single solution, and more interested in enhancing local areas and improving their current infrastructure to meet the needs of the area. With respect to the awarded funds, they mention “Using ONC funds, Texas established a Local HIE Grant Program to support HIOs in the planning, implementation, and operation of local HIE initiatives and networks” (p. 7). Texas is a state that has not provided universal state-level services as the primary effort is to expand and improve the local HIE initiatives that will serve communities better on an intimate scale.

Closing and Meaningful Integration

The role of technology in healthcare has been one of the greatest additions to the industry as it strives to exponentially improve and provide the best possible care. The use of EHRs by providers and the adoption of HIE has directly resulted in a field that provides continuity of care for benefit of the patient. Such drive to move forward on a grand scale has called for federal support and statewide initiatives for steady progression of HIE. Though some states are taking a smaller scale approach that focuses on building up individual areas of healthcare, the small parts come together on a grander scale. As Scripture puts it in the book of James: “So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how a small fire sets ablaze a large forest” (James 3:5, Christian Standard Bible). Too often the small parts are underestimated, until we realize those parts can become something greater. As the industry continues to implement, change, and create, we hold fast to knowing that those small things, those ideas and first steps, can ignite more than we ever knew was possible. Spread of Health Information Exchange Across the Nation


Braunstein, M. L. (2014). Contemporary health informatics. American Health Information

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Christian Standard Bible. (2017). Holman Bible Publishers.

Patel, V., Pylychuk, Y., Parasrampuria, S., Kachay, L. (2019). Interoperability among office-based

physicians in 2015 and 2017. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health

Information Technology, Data Brief No.47. https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files



The National Opinion Research Center. (n.d.). Evaulation of the state health information

exchange cooperative agreement program. Case study report: Experiences from Texas in

enabling health information exchange. https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default


The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). (2019). State health

information exchange. https://www.healthit.gov/topic/onc-hitech-programs/state-health-


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Spread of Health Information Exchange Across the Nation

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