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A Basic Overview of Health Information Exchange

As part of national efforts to improve quality, safety and efficiency in health care delivery, there is a growing demand for electronic health information exchange. The interest and demand for electronic health information exchange is driven by federal financial incentives, new payment methods that stress care coordination, meaningful use requirements, and new payment approaches.

Health Information Exchange allows patients and health care professionals to securely access and share patient’s medical information electronically. The technology that underpins the various forms of health information exchange is used in a variety of healthcare delivery situations.

HIE’s purpose is to ensure that patients have access to and are able to retrieve their health information in a secure and appropriate manner. This will improve patient care quality, safety, and cost effectiveness. HIE is often used to refer to information being exchanged between healthcare providers or organizations, but it could also refer to an organization responsible for the facilitation of the exchange.


HIE software allows different care providers to electronically share clinical information while still complying with HIPAA. It’s a way for County A to electronically request a client’s medical information and receive it securely from County B when they are needed.

HIEs allow providers to exchange data in a way both parties can understand. This ensures that data is meaningful for both the sender as well as the receiver.

HIE is a term that is quite common among public health professionals and most health workers are well-informed. However, HIE may not be the only topic of interest to some health workers.

HIE can also be used to improve the health of the population. Healthix, a New York-based HIE, helped the New York State Department of Health’s AIDS Institute monitor the HIV-positive population. 

This population requires long-term care. Healthix identified HIV-positive people and tracked their care. This data was used by the Department of Health to identify public health surveillance programs that could provide links to treatment and care for HIV-positive people.

Benefits for Patients

HIE has many benefits for patients. HIE allows patients to engage by providing them with an electronic copy of their medical information, which they can share with their doctors. HIE usage can also improve communication between patient and provider, as well as patient satisfaction.

HIE uses data standardization techniques to integrate patient data uniformly into an individual practice’s EHR. This means that vital patient data is identical regardless of who entered it into the EHR. This allows for the creation of a greater variety of patient health information.

If a provider is notified of abnormal laboratory results, they can be entered into the patient’s electronic chart. The provider can then flag them and schedule follow-up visits, specialist consults, and repeat laboratory tests in order to meet the patient’s needs.

Acessed and confidentially shared

Patients’ vital medical information can be accessed and confidentially shared, regardless of whether they are in the emergency room, labs or office of a care specialist. Patients’ individual medical needs are met with safer and more effective care

HIE (Health Information Exchange) refers to the electronic transmission of health-related data between medical facilities, companies involved in the management of healthcare information and government agencies. It is governed by national standards.

Different forms of Health Information Exchange

There are currently three types of HIE, each offering a different type and method of accessing health information.

1. Directed exchange

Directed exchange allows health care providers to securely and quickly share patient data with other providers. It is encrypted securely via the internet and only sends data between professionals who have established a professional relationship. Directed exchange can be described as secure email between two providers who know and trust each other. Directed exchange can help providers and patients to get better health care.

Directed exchange of late is used for two purposes: to provide quality-measure reports for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, (CMS), and to give immunization information for public health agencies.

2. Query-Based Exchange

Providers can query-based exchange information to find the most relevant health information from any clinical source. This form of HIE is most often used by providers to provide unplanned care in emergency situations.

An emergency room physician might need to ask for information about x-rays, current medications, or problem lists in order to treat a patient who is not familiar to him.

A doctor may ask for records of pregnancy if a woman is pregnant and goes into labor while on vacation.

3. Consumer-Mediated Exchange

Patients can securely access their medical information online through consumer-mediated exchange. This HIE utilization allows consumers to better manage their health care. It is similar to online banking for managing their finances.

Sharing vital information with other health professionals

This allows the patient to be involved in their care, which increases satisfaction and accuracy.

Final words:

HIE makes it easier to provide health care. Data sharing reduces the time and effort required to fill out repetitive forms. It also allows for new specialists or providers to access health information before they visit. This allows the provider to spend more time with patients than filling out paperwork.

This allows direct-to-consumer delivery for follow-up instructions or appointment reminders. The pharmacy can receive prescriptions and orders for medical supplies directly. This allows for quicker pre-authorizations and faster delivery of the products.

Health information exchange will only become an integral part of modern healthcare for all. This format of digital healthcare will only increase in population and make healthcare more efficient, safer, and more affordable.

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