The term health information exchange (HIE) can be used in two different but related ways:
- HIE As a Verb: as defined by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) as “The appropriate and confidential electronic exchange of clinical information among authorized organizations”. For example, the ONC is developing standards for the health information exchange of patient generated data.
- HIE As a Noun: as defined by the ONC as “An organization with agreed-upon operational and business rules that provides services to enable the electronic and secure sharing of health related information”. For example, the Wisconsin Statewide Health Information Network (WISHIN) is an HIE organization in Wisconsin.
HIE is an important part of health IT because it realizes the true potential of digitized health data: making it available at the right time to the right persons to improve care delivery and health outcomes. Essential to this process is sharing of common data across multiple organizations, which allows for the coordination of medical services in new ways that can increase quality and produce better outcomes. Most importantly, health IT enables the flow of health information that is essential for safe and effective care.
For health care organizations, HIE is supported by the use of certified electronic health records (EHRs). Certified EHRs use nationally recognized standards, further enabling interoperability, security, and confidentiality of health information. Health care organizations can use the certified EHR to both send and receive health information with another health care organization, which facilitates coordinated patient care on a local, regional, and national basis.
(Source: ONC, HIE)
HIE is supported in other ways too (besides health care organizations using their EHRs to send and receive data). Importantly, HIE organizations facilitate data exchange across health care entities including providers, hospitals, EHR systems, immunization registries, and the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP).
HIE organizations, like WISHIN, promote health and wellness because the data collected and exchanged by HIE organizations can provide information to individuals from several of their health care providers; and it can be used to support research, public health, emergency response, and quality improvement.
(Source: ONC, HIE)