In The Know

A Successful Milestone in the Heartland Could Advance HIE Interoperability Nationwide

December 15, 2016 – Three health information exchanges (HIEs) that are part of a larger pilot to develop and test a “Patient Centered Data Home,” hit a major milestone today and are now successfully exchanging patient health data among their systems and across state lines.

The East Tennessee Health Information Network (etHIN), Indiana Health Information Exchange (IHIE), and Michiana Health Information Network (MHIN) reached an agreement to enable data-sharing among their HIEs, ensuring that a patient’s healthcare record follows them wherever they seek care.

The Patient Centered Data Home (PCDH) Heartland initiative, as this project is called, is the third and largest pilot for the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC), a national trade association for HIEs that is acting as the project lead. The other pilots are already in production.

“This is an exciting first step toward a much larger goal,” said John Kansky, president and CEO of IHIE. “At the completion of this pilot, we’ll be exchanging health information among seven HIEs and across five states.”

Other Heartland partners include Great Lakes Health Connect (Grand Rapids, MI), HealthLinc (Bloomington, IN), the Kentucky Health Information Exchange (Frankfort, KY), and The Health Collaborative (Cincinnati, OH).

Each of SHIEC’s PCDH pilots, including the Heartland initiative, is using a standards-based approach to ensure that the PCDH is both cost-effective and scalable and ultimately benefits the patient. Successful implementation will demonstrate that the PCDH can enable HIEs nationwide to seamlessly deliver data across state lines, across health systems, and across referral regions.

“Because of the tourism in East Tennessee, etHIN has medical data on patients from all 50 states and beyond who were treated by an etHIN participant while traveling here,” said Leigh Sterling, Executive Director of etHIN. “The Heartland Project will allow us to notify the patient’s home health information exchange that a patient living there was treated in the etHIN region. Knowing about medical events that occur outside their local area will allow the hometown physicians to build a more complete patient medical record, thus providing more informed care for their patients.”

The approach that HIEs are taking to advance interoperability has some advantages over other approaches. Individually, health information exchanges build robust connections and relationships within the regions they serve. By connecting one HIE region to another, the expanse of interoperability starts to cover the nation.

“Each of our organizations is successfully exchanging healthcare data with providers in our own communities,” said Kelly Hahaj, CEO of MHIN. “It makes sense that the next evolution is to connect our networks to enable a person’s medical information to be available whenever and wherever care occurs, appropriately and securely.”

The 12-month initiative, which is funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), will allow the secure exchange of millions of patient health records, and ultimately result in a more connected Midwest.



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