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Health information exchanges are coming of age and proving their worth

Executive Director - Friday, September 16, 2016

The wobbly credibility of third-party health information exchange organizations got a boost after Texas Health Resources signed up to share patient data in a highly competitive healthcare market.

The 14-hospital system will join 32 other providers that are sending data to Healthcare Access San Antonio, an exchange whose territory stretches from the Oklahoma border in the north to Corpus Christi south on the Gulf Coast, the organizations said this week in a news release. HASA handles nearly 2.2 million patient records and supports about 2,400 HIE users.

HASA is one of nine health information exchange organizations in Texas and about 150 nationwide.

For decades now, exchanges have gone by various names and have had varying degrees of success. They range from the mass extinction of community health information networks (CHINS) in the 1990s, to the ill-fated regional health information organizations (RHIOs) of the early 2000s, to today's more robust HIEs (also known as Health Information Organizations, or HIOs). These HIEs, which often span states and include thousands of providers, received $564 million under the 2009 federal stimulus law.

Both private and government-sponsored health information exchange organizations have tested their ability to use patient information to improve health care, lower costs and bolster medical research. But the increased emphasis on achieving those goals in order to get paid by Medicare and Medicaid now adds pressure on providers to share valuable data.
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