Health Information Exchange Featured Article

June 12, 2012

Three New Health Information Exchanges Join New York's Statewide Network

New York State is rolling out its statewide health information exchange (HIE) with agreements with three local HIEs serving 13 million of the state’s nearly 19.5 million residents, according to a press release.

An HIE allows the transmission of healthcare-related data among facilities, health information organizations and government agencies according to national standards. HIE is an integral component of the health information technology (HIT) infrastructure under development in the United States and the associated National Health Information Network (NHIN), as well as a critical part of healthcare reform, the press release reports.

The idea behind HIEs is to help healthcare providers create a seamless network of patient information and services within state boundaries.

Brooklyn Health Information Exchange, eHealth Network of Long Island and THINC – covering New York City’s five boroughs, Long Island and the Hudson Valley – have all joined the state network and will connect their databases and infrastructures this summer. Three HIE vendors serving the local HIEs have been selected for attaching to the state network. The vendors are HealthUnity, IBM and InterSystems, and they will help to further develop the statewide exchange, standardizing software to ease interoperability, according to the press release.Who will the HIE help most? Doctors looking to link up with other doctors to provide better care for mutual patients through the statewide HIE, which will offer a patient record look-up service to enable searching across databases within the statewide network to find records relevant to specific patients, then will add secure messaging software using the federally developed Direct Project protocols.

According to Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, health information exchanges “have yet to become the darlings of most hospitals and medical practices,” but these health data sharing organizations “will undoubtedly play an important role as the HITECH Act's Meaningful Use programs continue to take shape.”

But New York state will have some catching up to do. McGee reports that HealthInfoNet, Maine's designated state HIE, became the first HIE in the nation in May to “support statewide sharing of X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, mammograms, and other medical images.”

HIEs are “a critical component for the industry's success with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the meaningful use of health IT, and health reform initiatives,” states the HIMSS Web site, which defines what it does as “transforming healthcare through IT.”

Edited by Rachel Ramsey