News Feature | February 22, 2016

HIEs In 2016: Three States To Watch

By Megan Williams, contributing writer

HIE Effectiveness Questioned As Vendors Align For More Interoperability

As the entire country gets into a groove with health information exchanges (HIEs), a few states are breaking out as front-runners in implementing them in innovative and effective ways. Vermont, Florida, and Arizona in particular have all made significant headway in launching their HIEs and achieving admirable results for their patient and medical communities.

Vermont’s HIE boasts some pretty impressive statistics — in just one year, the exchange boosted collections of ACO patient data from 17 percent to 64 percent, according to Healthcare Informatics.

They did this by focusing on improving data quality and becoming a more valuable source of analytics data for the three ACOs in the state. One of their biggest milestones was fully interfacing with Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, a goal they’d been working toward for 10 years. They additionally developed clinical data warehouses for their ACOs, enabling Vermont Information Technology Leaders (VITL) who operates the HIE, to create much-needed data marts.

VITL has also worked to increase the understanding of the importance of data quality at all levels of organizational importance. They have implemented and improved CCD interfaces and work directly with providers to help them understand why data needs to be collected in a consistent fashion.

Moving forward into 2016, they will be focusing on enhancing their point-of-care query services, VITLAccess.

Florida’s HIE has been up and running since 2011, but has recently been refocused on sustainability and staying flexible in a changing healthcare environment.

The state’s chief health policy and planning agency, the Agency For Health Care Administration (AHCA) was awarded $20.7 million in grant funds from ONC to build out the HIE infrastructure.

Today, the organization offers three services that help Florida providers share information after gaining patient consent:

  • Direct Messaging, which allows providers to send and receive messages securely
  • Patient Look-Up (PLU), which facilitates patient-authorized exchange of data between participants
  • Event Notification Service (ENS), a service that provides automatic alert notifications when patients are discharged from EDs or hospitals to ACOs and health plans, then to their primary care provider.

Florida currently has 10 regional organizations participating in the PLU program, 200 hospitals in ENS, and is expecting their numbers around Direct Messaging to continue to improve.

Arizona is also setting an HIE standard with its Behavioral Health Information Network Of Arizona (BHNIAZ) by improving care for the seriously mental ill in crisis situations. According to Laura Young, BHINA’s executive director,

“We’ve been focused on a pretty robust consent model and the exchange of data, and making sure that our providers can get the data they need for the services they provide. We’ve been really focused on our crisis project, which entails getting providers who are involved in caring for seriously mentally ill (SMI) individuals through clinic-based care, involved, and providing information to crisis hotlines, first responders, mobile teams.”

They have found success by standardizing the data set needed for behavioral health crisis situations — 11 elements in total. They also plan to connect six crisis center organizations (in addition to the two that are already connected) soon. Arizona emphasizes the importance of getting providers involved to share their feedback and input.