The federal government may be pouring $548 million of stimulus funding into state-level health information exchanges, but there are a growing number of private HIEs emerging, where an integrated delivery system may link its owned and affiliated providers, or, in some cases, local competitors, to cooperate on data exchange.

It's the private market that many information technology vendors see as their primary HIE focus, says John Moore, managing partner of Chilmark Research, a Cambridge, Mass.-based consultancy.  There typically is a sound business reason for private HIEs: "driving referrals back to the mother ship," he says. That business reason why 21 HIE vendors surveyed by Moore report that nearly 70 percent of their business is in the private market.

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