Connecting EHRs to HIEs

In addition to the Medicare and Medicaid funding provided by the ARRA/Stimulus bill, funding was made available for the development of Health Information Exchanges (HIEs).  How will EHRs connect?

The next natural step in the evolution of Health Information Technology is using that information for improved patient care.  The holy grail is the totally inclusive health record so that every provider for the patient has access to all the pertinent information from every other provider.

Some have argued the abilty to share the data needs to precede the ability to create the data and others have argued the other way around.  The point is now moot as ARRA is funding both.

With the advent of HIEs, we see two important things happening:

1) Many HIEs will be looking for a true Internet-based EHR to be an automatic or default EHR for the HIE for those providers who do not already have an EHR or choose not to buy their own separate EHR. We are already working with several HIE companies on such proposals.  Some are referring to such EHRs as “EHR lite” – another Blog entry is coming on this as “lite” should not be mistaken for lack of features but rather hardware or server “lite” in not having to purchase and maintain such equipment.

2) The ability of EHRs to connect to the HIE will be very important.  Whether a practice already has an EHR or will be buying one, sooner than later they will be expected to connect their EHR with the HIE.  As a result, it is very important to find out BEFORE you buy the EHR what they will charge for the interface to connect to the HIE.  I was astounded to hear at a state HIE meeting that one vendor was charging their existing customers $10,000 to connect to the state’s HIE.

Sevocity believes that EHR vendors should not charge anything (or at the very least a nominal fee) to connect to an HIE.  It is our duty to support integration efforts and the reality is that once the first interface is bulit to an HIE the rest are copies and very little work.    As with our other standard HL7 interfaces, Sevocity will not charge our customers to interface with the HIE.  Maybe it costs us some revenue in the short run but we believe that in the crowded EHR business the companies that do the right thing in the short run will be around in the long run.

C Huddle, VP Market Development