Advancing HIE & Rural HIE Connectivity


What is Health Information Exchange (HIE)?

Electronic health information exchange (HIE) allows doctors, nurses, pharmacists, other health care providers and patients to appropriately access and securely share a patient’s vital medical information electronically—improving the speed, quality, safety and cost of patient care.

Despite the widespread availability of secure electronic data transfer, most Americans’ medical information is stored on paper—in filing cabinets at various medical offices, or in boxes and folders in patients’ homes. When that medical information is shared between providers, it happens by mail, fax or—most likely—by patients themselves, who frequently carry their records from appointment to appointment. While electronic health information exchange cannot replace provider-patient communication, it can greatly improve the completeness of a patient's records.  This can have a big effect on care because past history, current medications and other information is jointly reviewed during visits.

Appropriate, timely sharing of vital patient information can better inform decision making at the point of care and allow providers to:

  • Avoid readmissions

  • Avoid medication errors

  • Improve diagnoses

  • Decrease duplicate testing


Rural HIT Steering Committee Workgroup Meetings

This initiative seeks to assess and support the IT needs of rural providers to harmonize data sharing capabilities, increase the rate of health information sharing, and advance health information exchange across Colorado Rural Health Clinics through funding, analytics, and tools to help support immunization registries, care coordination, and quality measurements in their communities.

eHealth Commissioner Sponsor:  Kevin Stansbury and Michael Archuleta

Next meeting: Jan 17th, 2023 12:00 PM Mountain Time

Zoom Link:

November Meeting Documents:

Past Meeting Documents:

Rural Connectivity-Related Initiatives at OeHI


Rural HIE Connectivity

The majority of Colorado's physical health care providers and hospitals are currently connected to one of the two State's recognized HIEs- Contexture and QHN. In Colorado, many of our safety-net providers serve vulnerable populations in both our rural and frontier communities. Many rural providers do not have the financial resources, technical expertise, or capacity to connect and adopt essential health information and data sharing at their organizations on their own.  OeHI's Rural HIE Connectivity project seeks to assess the IT needs of rural providers and provide implementation support providing funding, analytics, and tools to help support Immunization registries, care coordination, and quality measurement in their communities.

Why does this Matter?

Imagine you are camping at the Sand Dunes and you or a loved one requires medical attention for an injury or chronic health condition. The closest hospital is at least 45 minutes away- so you quickly pack up your family and drive to the nearest hospital. If the hospital has access to Colorado’s health information exchange infrastructure, they can view and share x-rays, MRIs, test results, and clinical information with your doctor or specialist for a consult, in real-time. This avoids completing and paying for the same imaging and tests with your primary care provider or specialist when you return home, saving money on health care and providing better care. 

In emergent medical situations, studies have shown better health outcomes and lower costs when providers have real-time access to their patient’s health record- which is available in our health information exchanges. This means less time spent recovering from that injury and more time enjoying Colorado’s outdoors. For those who live in rural or frontier communities, the local hospital is essential for the health, safety, and economic well-being of the community.

Advancing Health Information Exchange (HIE)

As described in Colorado's Health IT Roadmap, the Office of eHealth Innovation (OeHI) with support from the  Rural HIE Connectivity Workgroup seeks to harmonize and advance data sharing and health information exchange (HIE) capabilities across Colorado. In Colorado, we have two state-designated  health information exchanges - Contexture and Quality Health Network (QHN). These two organizations provide critical health IT infrastructure and real-time health information to providers growing connections and compatibility in electronic health networks statewide. If a hospital or provider has access to Colorado's health information infrastructure, they can view and share x-rays, MRIs, test results, and clinical information with doctors or specialists for consultation, in real time. OeHI-funded projects improve the quality, consistency, and type of data included in these HIEs.

Why does this Matter?

Ultimately, the result of full access to relevant health information is better outcomes for patients through better access to, and availability of, their health information; improved care team communication and coordination; and reduced health care costs.

Funding Opportunity 

The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) has announced a funding opportunity that supports the planning and development of integrated health care networks seeking to expand access and improve quality of care in rural communities. HRSA plans to award 20 grants to rural communities as part of this funding opportunity.

Successful award recipients of the Rural Health Network Development Planning Program will receive up to $100,000 for a one-year period to conduct planning activities that support at least one of the following:

  • Achieve efficiency. Focus on identifying ways to achieve better system efficiencies and improve regional and/or local rural health care services through collaboration, access to additional services, and quality improvement.
  • Expand access to, coordinate, and improve the quality of basic health care services. Focus on ways to build capacity and a network infrastructure that enables entities to coordinate care and increase access to care for rural communities both locally and regionally.
  • Strengthen the rural health care system as a whole. Focus on ways to enhance community and partner relationships to promote involvement and participation in network planning activities aiming to strengthen the rural health care system.

The eligibility criteria for this program includes all domestic public and private, nonprofit and for-profit entities with demonstrated experience serving, or the capacity to serve, rural underserved populations. Urban-based organizations applying as the lead applicant should ensure there is a high degree of rural control in the project.

Tribes and tribal organizations under the same tribal governance must still meet the consortium criteria of three or more entities, but are only required to have a single Employer Identification Number (EIN) located in a HRSA-designated rural area to be eligible. Applicant organizations that share the same EIN as its parent organization, or organizations with the same network who are proposing different projects, are eligible to apply by requesting an exception request.

In FY 2022, HRSA awarded over $1.9 million for Rural Health Network Development Planning Program (Network Planning) grants to assist in the development of an integrated health care network, specifically network participants who do not have a history of formal collaborative efforts. Current FY 22 Network Planning grant recipients may not apply for this funding opportunity if they have previously received a Network Planning grant for the same or similar project unless the entity is proposing to expand the scope of the project or the area that will be served through the project.

Please note that the applicant organization must represent a network that includes at least three or more health care provider organizations and, at least 66% (or two-thirds) of network members must be located in a HRSA-designated rural area.  To learn more about the Network Planning Program click here

Get Engaged


If you're interested in getting engaged, please reach out to our Ask OeHI email address at