A session at HIMSS12 in Las Vegas will take a look at the role that state health information exchanges will play, in concert with regional, vendor and private provider HIEs, and accountable care organizations, in shaping the new health care marketplace.

The industry is evolving in to a network of networks and there will a degree of economic chaos as they all look for a sustainability model, says Gary Ozanich, Ph.D., senior research fellow at Northern Kentucky University, and chair of the business development and finance committee for the Kentucky Health Information Exchange. The exchange is the state HIE initially funded under the HITECH Act.

The state HIEs are designed to be the stabilizer during the sorting out period of various networks and serve as a baseline public utility connection, Ozanich says. “We’re going to connect to anybody.” Ozanich will co-present the session with Karen Chrisman, general counsel in the Kentucky Governor’s Office of Electronic Health Information. They’ll walk through the economies of networks and the factors that define cost structures.

They’ll also press the importance of participation agreements that spell out the degree to which stakeholders are willing to share data. Many regional HIEs only offer clinical messaging services because providers don’t yet want to share their data. Large providers, for instance, often only want connections with their medical trade areas--the aligned providers in the region--and a few state registries.

Going forward, the only source for additional value-added services--such as sharing diagnostic images and links to numerous registries--may be the state HIE, Ozanich contends. It may in the long run make sense for regional hospitals to connect through the state rather than fight with each other locally with private networks. But once the accountable care concept starts to really take hold and providers have to cooperate more among themselves, he believes they will start to see the value of a state HIE.

Ozanich and Chrisman will present four views of how states are approaching HIEs, and make the argument for a public utility model. “We can provide economies of scale, registries and value-added services, and serve medical trade areas,” Ozanich says. “And if you want to fight among yourselves, go ahead, we’ll still be here.”

The session, “State HIEs, RHIOs and ACOs: Factors Shaping the Marketplace, is scheduled on Feb. 21 at 9:45 a.m.

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