How HIEs are Changing Healthcare in New England & Beyond

How HIEs are Changing Healthcare in New England & Beyond


HIEs are paving the way for interoperability in healthcare. HealthIT.gov defines HIEs as, an electronic health information exchange (HIE) that allows doctors, nurses, pharmacists, other health care providers and patients appropriately access and securely share a patient’s vital medical information electronically. In an emergency, HIEs help providers quickly and more accurately diagnose and treat patients. In non-emergency situations, it can decrease ordering of repeat tests and give providers a more complete picture of their patients’ care. Let’s check out how HIEs are transforming health systems in New England & beyond: 

In Massachusetts:

The Massachusetts eHealth Institute was the first in the nation to secure nearly universal coverage for all citizens. Their goals, in order, are to digitize healthcare data, share healthcare data, and drive innovation in healthcare. The Massachusetts Health Information Highway (Mass HIway) was one of the first statewide HIEs in the country. Massachusetts has an ‘opt in’ law for the Mass HIway. This means that your healthcare organization needs to get your consent before using the Mass HIway in your care. This is different than ‘opt out’, which means that providers can automatically use a health information exchange for your care until you sign a form saying that is not what you want.

In Maine:

HealthInfoNet began as a project called the Maine Health Information Network Technology (MHINT) in 2004. Four groups, came together to determine if Maine was ready to develop a single patient health record across competing healthcare organizations. The study found strong support amongst health care providers and other stakeholders.  The HIE went live in 2009 and now contains records for close to all of Maine residents and is connected to the majority of health care facilities in Maine. HealthInfoNet also provides a number of value added services including assisting providers with meaningful use attestation, public health reporting, event of care notifications, and population analytics and reporting services.

In Rhode Island:

CurrentCare is Rhode Island’s HIE. Participation is voluntary and free for both patients and health care providers.

Many individuals see several doctors, take multiple medications, and go to several locations for medical tests. CurrentCare ensures that all of an enrolled patient’s healthcare providers have the information they need to coordinate the best possible care. Most significantly, CurrentCare contributes to the reduction of medical errors, prevention of avoidable hospitalizations and emergency room visits and improved care coordination between providers.

In New Hampshire:

The New Hampshire Health Information Organization‘s (NHHIO) mission is to securely connect healthcare communities to share patient health information needed for informed care decisions. NHHIO supports the use of “Direct”, a national standard for exchanging health information between healthcare entities in a trusted network. Direct secure messaging functions like regular email, but with additional security and encryption measures to ensure that messages are only accessible to the intended recipient.

In Vermont:

Vermont Information Technology Leaders, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that advances health care reform efforts in Vermont through the use of health information technology, and is the legislatively designated operator of the Vermont Health Information Exchange (VHIE). The VHIE is a secure, statewide data network which gives health care providers in Vermont the ability to electronically exchange and access patient data. Their VisionA transformed health care system where health information is secure and readily available when people need it, positioning Vermont as a national example of high quality, cost effective care.

In Connecticut: 

Connecticut has had quite the journey to get to where they are today. After years of attempting to implement a statewide health IT plan, a complete overhaul was needed.   An advisory committee was put in place, stakeholders were surveyed, and engagement themes were produced. These themes included:

  • Viewing the Patient at the “North Star”
    • the guiding principle; focus on health equity and social determinants of health
  • Embrace Existing Capabilities
    • statewide HIE shared services; “networks of networks,” not curating and solving for data, but rather letting the data live where it lives and finding ways to make it fungible through different services
  • Whole Person Care
  • Focus on Workflow
  • Harness ACO’s
  • Meet Today’s, and Anticipate Tomorrow’s Needs

From these, nine call to action’s were created, and out of that CT’s first HIE emerged. The eHealthConnecticut HIE provides a secure, interoperable, standards-based health information infrastructure to enable timely exchange of medical data between providers at the point of care. eHealthConnecticut provides a unified voice and coordinating resource for regional health information exchange efforts across Connecticut.

And Beyond:

CommonWell Health Alliance, along with their service provider and members, have created a vendor-neutral platform that breaks down the barriers that currently inhibit effective health data exchange. It’s “interoperability for the common good.” CommonWell has been active for just 2 years and has:

  • ~20 million unique individuals
  • ~60 million available records
  • ~5,500 sites live, with ~330 of those in New England

CommonWell core services aim to enable health care providers to manage patient identity, link patients across organizations, and facilitate secure data access and exchange beyond one’s own system or community. They understand that in order for health IT to work, it must be inherently interoperable. Services include:

hies-commonwell-services

Exchanging data between health information systems can be both challenging and daunting, with a litany of standards to navigate, vendor-proprietary APIs to consider and basic connectivity.

Galen’s team of seasoned analysts has broad expertise and extensive experience assisting organizations in connecting disparate health information systems. For our full suite of HIE services and solutions, visit our website, or contact us below with any questions:

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