At least 92% of the U.S. population have data shared via health information exchanges, according to survey findings released Monday.
More than 200 million patients are served by HIEs connected to the Patient Centered Data Home, a national network that the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative created in 2016 to facilitate exchange of patient information between HIEs. Through the model, a provider is alerted when a patient receives care from an organization connected to the Patient Centered Data Home, even if it's outside of the HIE that the provider is part of.
The Patient Centered Data Home model has continued to grow, with participation increasing by 230%, according to SHIEC.
Members of SHIEC, a national group that represents roughly 80 HIEs and conducted the survey released Monday, deliver more than 1 billion clinical alerts each year, including real-time notifications of hospital admissions, discharges or transfers.
These clinical event notifications help physicians and healthcare organizations coordinate care, ultimately reducing hospital readmissions and improving outcomes, according to SHIEC.
"HIEs are sharing information to improve healthcare and health status," Dan Porreca, chair of SHIEC's board and executive director of HEALTHeLINK, an HIE in western New York, said in a statement.
Health information exchanges, organizations that facilitate the transfer of patient information between different entities, have long been considered a possible solution to the healthcare industry's interoperability woes, helping to overcome silos between different hospitals, as well as laboratories, pharmacies, first responders and other community resources.
About 70% of hospitals participate in at least one nationwide network, while about half participate in both a national and a state, regional or local HIE, according to a data brief released late last year by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
However, research has been split on their effectiveness.
Although many patients have data transferred via HIEs, hospitals have varied interest in the exchanges. Across the board, hospitals tend to use multiple strategies for interoperability, leveraging HIEs, networks of electronic health record vendors and other methods, according to the ONC's data brief.
That may be due to challenges HIEs have sometimes had corralling complete patient data. In a report on patient care coordination in ACOs released earlier this year, HHS' Office of Inspector General wrote that HIEs often had incomplete patient data—a challenge that was "not unique to ACOs."
"Many see a network of high functioning and comprehensive HIEs as a linchpin of interoperability, but the promise of such a network has not yet been realized," according to the report.
Thirty-eight percent of hospitals cited leveraging HIEs as a step they were taking to overcome interoperability challenges, according to a recent survey of 100 hospital IT and business leaders released by the Center for Connected Medicine. That followed steps like moving to a single integrated EHR (57%), hiring new talent (44%) and partnering with technology vendors (40%).