The National eHealth Collaborative(www.nationalehealth.org) (NeHC), a public-private partnership established through a grant from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, recently released what the NeHC describes as a "roadmap" to accelerate health information exchange on a national level.
The report(www.nationalehealth.org), titled Health Information Exchange Roadmap: The Landscape and a Path Forward may be downloaded at no charge from the collaborative's website.
According to an April 2 NeHC statement(www.nationalehealth.org), the 60-plus experts who contributed to the report all struck a common chord: The vision of successful health information exchange throughout the United States is attainable, but next steps must include a collaborative process to tackle remaining challenges.
The report provides a framework designed to be used by anyone working toward health information exchange at the local level. The report covers
- federal efforts to help create a solid base for the interoperable exchange of health information by developing common standards, services and policies;
- examples of successful connectivity and exchange approaches that are leveraging national standards to improve patient care, achieve efficiencies, and realize cost savings; and
- suggestions on how successful federal strategies can be blended with private-sector innovation to form an overall cohesive strategy to create a standards-based, national health information exchange.
According to the executive summary of the report, health information exchange can "eliminate boundaries in health care so that patients can be treated in a timely, informed manner no matter where they are."
The summary also notes that when properly implemented, health information exchange will "revolutionize the practice of transition of care and connected health, which have long been difficult to manage."
Report authors note that secure exchange of health information improves care coordination and assures patients and their physicians that the right medical information is in the right hands at the right time. That, in turn, leads to fewer errors and duplicative tests and procedures, improved health care quality, and cost savings.
The release of the report also heralded the launch of the NeHC's new Health Information Exchange Learning Network(www.nationalehealth.org), which will include multiple workgroups charged with building consensus on best practices for addressing ongoing health information exchange challenges.
The workgroups likely will tackle topics such as how to
- evaluate and select technology solutions,
- address variations in implementation of interoperability standards,
- build patient consent models,
- encourage payer and employer engagement in health information exchange, and
- define the role and function of health information exchange in supporting the accountable care model of health care.
Physicians interested in volunteering their opinions on key issues can sign up(www.nationalehealth.org) to participate by joining a learning network workgroup.