ONC's John Rancourt may be the master of understatement. In a blog late last month, the program analyst stated, "Health information exchange is not easy."

 

Ain't that the truth? If it were, HIE (the noun) probably wouldn't even be in our lexicon. The industry would have solved the problem somewhere between CHMIS and RHIOs (CHIN was my favorite acronym). But Rancourt is right. Health information exchange (the verb) is hard. Even as many of the technological challenges fall by the wayside, there are lingering questions over how a health information exchange (the noun) can be sustained. And as John Morrissey points out in our latest Connecting the Continuum article, there are multiple competing models vying for your attention.

But if there ever was a perfect storm for HIE (verb and noun), it may be now. In a cover story two years ago, we pointed out the strong business case for health information exchange. That shift started with passage of the HITECH Act, which gave rise to meaningful use, and it has accelerated with health reform and the shift to a value-driven delivery system. The more at risk providers are for a patient's continuum of care, the more records need to flow freely from one setting to another.

Some states, regions and providers have been working for a while to get out in front of this issue. It's something we talked to Russ Branzell about in August 2011. At the time, he was CIO at Poudre Valley Health System in Colorado and leading the charge for HIE. Earlier this week, Branzell was named CHIME's new CEO.

Back to Rancourt's blog, though. In it, he identifies five new reports from ONC aimed at helping the industry advance the cause of HIE. The reports range from a how-to guide for, as he says, "navigating the major business considerations for HIE," to one on consumer engagement.

Is your hospital, state or region moving toward some form of HIE? If so, we'd like to hear about it. Click on the comment link below and let us know.