FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 4, 2006
Contact: Richard Deutsch
Health Information Exchange Initiatives Advance
with Support from Quality Improvement Organizations
Study Shows QIOs Serve as Key Partners in More
Than 40 States
Washington, D.C. – Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs) are
accelerating the formation of Health Information Exchange (HIE) initiatives
nationwide. That’s the key finding of a report made public today
by the American Health Quality Foundation, the educational arm of the
American Health Quality Association, which represents the nation’s
network of QIOs. The report, prepared with assistance from the eHealth
Initiative, was given to congressional staff in March.
The report, Quality
Improvement Organizations and Health Information Exchange, concludes
that as communities prepare to launch HIE networks, they benefit from
the participation of their local QIO early in the developmental process.
QIOs are private organizations that work under contract to Medicare
to encourage the adoption of best practices that increase the safety
and effectiveness of health care. In the current Medicare contract cycle
(2005-2008,) QIOs are funded to help 5 percent of the nation’s
adult primary care practices adopt and use health information technology
to deliver better care.
In addition to working with individual office practices,
the report finds that QIOs in 41 states and the Virgin Islands are currently
supporting local, regional and statewide initiatives to develop health
information exchange networks. In many states, QIOs are convening stakeholders
and helping communities reach consensus on the goals, operation, and
funding of HIE initiatives.
The report defines health information exchange
as the ability to electronically move clinical information between points
of care in a community or a region. As more and more doctors and hospitals
use electronic medical records and other forms of health information
technology, the potential benefits of implementing HIE are growing quickly.
average, a Medicare beneficiary sees seven different physicians each
year and purchases 20 or more different prescriptions. Having operational
health information exchange in your community means emergency room physicians
have immediate access to critical medical records, doctors can quickly
access test results, and coordination of care improves across settings
and among doctors,” said
Christine Bechtel, one of the authors of the report and Director of Government
Affairs at AHQA.
A recent eHealth Initiative survey of over 100 state, regional
and community-based initiatives shows HIE development on the rise nationwide.
Twenty five communities reported having fully operational HIE systems,
40 communities are in the implementation phase and dozens more are exploring
how to get started.
“The benefits of establishing viable HIE are
obvious,” Bechtel notes, “But
how to do it is not. Communities face enormous challenges securing upfront funding,
creating a sustainable business model, and helping health providers adopt HIT
to connect with each other. QIOs are in the forefront of helping their communities
make progress in these areas.”
The report points out that there are a number
of key activities common to the successful development and operation of health
information exchange capabilities—and
it notes that QIOs are leading or contributing to many of these efforts:
QIOs (50 states, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, DC) are laying the groundwork
for HIE by accelerating physician adoption of health information technology
and supporting care process and workflow redesign to take advantage of
- 42 of the nation’s QIOs are engaging and convening stakeholders
across health care settings to build awareness of the importance and
benefits of HIE.
- 37 QIOs are working in their states and communities to achieve
consensus on priorities, goals, and functions of HIE initiatives.
QIOs are actively involved in governance and organization of HIE initiatives.
QIOs are helping develop and implement sustainable business plans for
- 10 QIOs are contributing to the development of information
sharing policies for HIE in their communities.
- 10 QIOs are participating
in the technical design of HIE architecture. QIOs also anticipate helping
physicians understand the interoperability requirements for local HIE
Quality Improvement Organizations and Health Information Exchange—which
provides a state by state overview of HIE initiatives and QIO efforts—is
available online at www.ahqa.org.
The American Health Quality Association is dedicated
to improving the safety and effectiveness of health care. AHQA represents
the national network of Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs) that
work with hospitals,
medical practices, health plans, long-term care facilities, home health
agencies, and employers to encourage the spread of best clinical practices
and improve systems of care delivery.