Advancing Health Information Exchange Initiative (HIE)
As described in Colorado's Health IT Roadmap, the Office of eHealth Innovation (OeHI) and the Advancing HIE Workgroup seek to harmonize and advance data sharing and health information exchange (HIE) capabilities across Colorado. In Colorado, we have two recognized health information exchanges - Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO) and Quality Health Network (QHN). These two organizations provide critical health IT infrastructure and real-time health information to providers. This network serves as the "pipes" to connect siloed 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 a consult, 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.
Rural HIE Connectivity
About 72% of Colorado's health care providers and hospitals are currently connected to one of the two State's recognized Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) - Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO) and Quality Health Network (QHN). The majority of those not connected are in rural communities. In Colorado, many of our safety-net providers serve vulnerable populations including uninsured and Medicaid patients in both our rural and frontier communities. The COVID pandemic has further demonstrated the critical need for connecting to the health information exchange. However, many of these rural providers simply do not have the financial resources, technical expertise, or capacity to connect. OeHI's Rural HIE Connectivity project seeks to assess the IT needs of rural providers and to leverage federal matching funds to cover the initial implementation and ongoing fees to assist rural hospitals and providers in getting connected. OeHI is also funding an analytics project that provides real-time COVID-19 testing data to rural providers.
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.
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 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