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Strategizing Financial Sustainability for HIEs

February 20, 2011
by Jennifer Prestigiacomo
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Even though “no one has a single answer” for health information exchange (HIE) sustainability, said Claudia Williams, director of the State Health Information Exchange Program at HHS, the panelists of the HIE Financial Sustainability Symposia at the HIMSS11 Conference in Orlando on February 20 agreed that HIEs must deliver value at every stage and that health plans must take their place at the stakeholder table.

According to Delaware Health Information Network’s Executive Director Gina Perez, DHIN’s sustainability principles are to help its stakeholders meet meaningful use, achieve quality reporting, and create administrative efficiencies. DHIN is a public/private partnership, as well as a state designated entity that’s been live since 2007. Perez sees health plans as a major key to DHIN’s success, as well as to other HIEs, as “they want to be able to manage disease states and manage costs.” To assuage people’s concerns about payers dealing with PHI, she advocates “giving them access in a very controlled way,” and giving consumers a voice in the process.

“HIE by itself is just not sustainable, you have to have other services to make it worthwhile,” said Jac Davies, director of program development, Beacon Community of the Inland Northwest, Inland Northwest Health Services. The Beacon Community of the Inland Northwest is primarily targeting diabetes and seeks to affect clinical outcomes and costs in the inpatient setting, as well as establish a data repository. Davies said key to sustainability was to cultivate early adopters, and celebrate successes, especially short-term ones.

The ONC’s Williams proposed that HIEs should adopt “modularity,” by offering several different services, as not every region will consume the same services. Over the long-term, HIEs can then build demand over time for higher degrees of complexity within services. Williams also said HIEs should be nimble, with the ability to “pivot their business model several times.” “If we don’t build that into the HIE system, we will develop brittle system that will never survive,” she concluded.