Frequently Asked Questions
What is Health Information Exchange (HIE)? Electronic Health Information Exchange, or “HIE,” is the electronic movement of health-related information among organizations according to nationally recognized standards. It allows clinical information to quickly move electronically between the different healthcare information systems that may be used by a patients’ different providers (e.g., specialists, labs) while maintaining the privacy, security, and accuracy of the information being exchanged.
How does HIE improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare? Connecting clinical providers through a secure, electronic, confidential health information system will help ensure that providers have access to the right information at the right time.
Access by authorized providers to past clinical information about patients will enable physicians and other clinicians to provide better care, reduce duplicative tests and improve patient safety, among other things. Ultimately, patients will receive higher quality care and have access to additional information so they can better manage their personal health.
Is etHIN an HIE? etHIN is a Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO), which is a health information organization that brings together healthcare stakeholders within a defined geographic area and governs health information exchange among them for the purpose of improving healthcare in that community. People sometimes refer to a RHIO as an HIE.
What information is available through etHIN? Participating healthcare providers can view the following types of information on patients that they have a relationsip with:
Radiology reports and images
Hospital discharge summaries
etHIN participants are required by policy to attempt to refrain to the best of their ability from submitting certain sensitive information (e.g., individually identifiable information from federally funded substance abuse programs that treat, diagnose and refer patients for substance abuse treatment).
How secure are my medical records? Who can see my information? Only participating doctors and healthcare providers who have a treatment, payment, or operations relationship with you may see your information. There are strict legal guidelines that limit who may access patient information. Access to health records is monitored and audited by etHIN. You may request an audit report from etHIN at any time through your physician if he or she is an etHIN participant.
What’s the benefit to me? Your physicians and other healthcare providers who participate in the health exchange network could have access to more up-to-date information about your health available to them without having to make phone calls and wait for faxes. Treating physicians may be able to see medications and allergy information you have reported to other physicians. They may also be able to view your lab work and recent test results. Having access to more timely information will help your doctors make the best diagnoses and provide you with the best treatment possible.
Can I access my medical records directly? etHIN provides access to patient medical records to treating healthcare providers only. If you need copies of your medical records or test results, you should contact your physician’s office.
Who is participating in etHIN? Many of the hospitals in etHIN’s Community of Care are participating. Future participants include physicians’ practices, pharmacies, major independent laboratories and radiology practices. We are also working to coordinate information from home healthcare services and long-term care facilities. Additional participants are being added on a regular basis. View a complete list of the current participants.
How is my personal health information protected? etHIN uses state-of-the-art systems to protect your health information against such risks as loss or unauthorized access, destruction, inappropriate use, modification, or disclosure. Unlike a paper chart, every access of your medical information through etHIN by any authorized user is logged electronically and is audited. All systems, including provider EHRs and etHIN’s network, must comply with the security provisions of HIPAA. For added assurance, the etHIN system is subjected to regular third-party security audits. Protection of your personal health information is of the utmost concern at etHIN.
Does this cost me anything? The cost of the healthcare exchange is carried by etHIN’s stakeholders and participating providers. The nationwide directive for creating Health Information Exchanges was included in the HITECH section of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). etHIN was incorporated in 2005, well before ARRA came to pass. Health information exchange has long been recognized as a need by members of etHIN’s Community of Care and as being the right thing to do for our patients. It is why etHIN was created.