The National Association of State Chief Information Officers is one of those organizations most of us have never heard of. Since health care seems to touch everything and everyone these days, it has released a report on the state of efforts to create health information exchanges. The federal government has provided a tremendous amount of funding to support the development of these exchanges, which are one critical component of the overall effort to increase the collection, sharing and utility of health information. Electronic health records will be of little value if the data they collect cannot be shared across providers and even with patients. (NASCIO Report)
NASCIO encourages states to use common technical approaches and standards, for the obvious reason that information needs to be shared across state lines as well as within a state. While it recognizes that states may have varying levels of involvement in their HIEs and different governance structures for them, NASCIO recommends certain guiding principles, including the ability to keep information secure and to share it across exchanges in standardized formats, to recognize that the HIE’s main purpose is to facilitate sharing of clinical data, which must be interoperable and to ensure that the HIE is facilitating providers’ compliance with the federal meaningful use requirements.
The state summaries describe the HIE, the level of state government involvement, the method of governance, websites and current status of the HIE effort. The report is useful for states to compare themselves but also a good marketing source for vendors who supply these HIE efforts. The HIE concept has been around for a long time and progress is finally being made on having them in place and working to support health information use.