The numbers are daunting. Nearly two decades after the advent of community health information networks and more than five years after the Bush Administration starting pushing for electronic health records and health information exchanges, only 28 states have one or more operational HIEs. And operational doesn't mean everyone in a region, much less a state, is active in the HIE.

In a nation of 300 million residents over 3.5 million square miles, there are 193 HIEs in various stages of development, according to eHealth Initiative, a Washington-based industry advocacy organization. By self-attestation, 57 of the HIEs are operational. Most HIEs don't have a sustainable business model, and getting a critical mass of regional stakeholders to cooperate in exchanging their data remains an extremely difficult proposition.

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