HIEs Form National Association to Speak with One Voice

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Nineteen health information exchanges have officially launched the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative, a new trade association for HIEs, and are seeking additional members.

The HIEs announced in December 2014 that they were working on developing SHIEC to enable the industry to speak with one voice on policy issues and promote the business model, take advantage of economies of scale and form joint ventures, create education and awareness programs, and support sustainability.

Two veteran HIE players lead the association. Bob Steffel, formerly CEO of the HealthBridge HIE in Cincinnati, is the executive director of SHIEC. Dick Thompson, executive director of Quality Health Network in Grand Junction, Colo., is chairman of the board.

Members of the association already are working on education and joint venture initiatives. For instance, some regional New York HIEs have done television and radio advertising and stand ready to advise other HIEs on what they have learned. Further, HIE members may cooperate on various initiatives, such as reporting to insurers—based on data in their master patient indexes—which of their covered members have been admitted to a hospital.

Also See: More Funds for New York State HIE

Steffel estimates there are about 200-250 HIEs in the nation at varying levels of readiness, “but it’s a squishy number and the ones far enough along to make an impact are far smaller,” he acknowledges. The hope is that SHIEC can help other efforts “shorten the learning curve with folks who have figured it out,” he adds.

The association is heavy on New York HIEs with seven among the 19 members as the state government has invested heavily in HIE technology. But only four statewide HIEs are represented, as most states haven’t yet gotten traction for their HIE efforts despite more than a half-billion dollars in grant funding under the HITECH Act. The organization will not accept vendors as members, but certainly seeks to cooperate with them, Steffel says.

For now, annual dues are $5,000, but the association as it grows will be looking to base dues on the size of member organizations.

While SHIEC will not have the resources for some time to engage in active lobbying on policy issues, it will be working to influence policymaking. For instance, the organization soon will issue its response to the national Interoperability Roadmap that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology recently released.

While nationwide interoperability is a good goal, the vast majority of healthcare is delivered within a 50-mile radius for most patients and that is the sweet spot to focus on as the real value is in local markets, Steffel says. The value of a national interoperability effort should be focused on establishing national standards.

More information on SHIEC is available here.

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