The Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC), a national trade association representing health information exchanges (HIEs), last week announced that it has named Kelly Hoover Thompson as its new CEO. The new leadership at the Grand Junction, Colo.-based national HIE association comes at a time of accelerating change in the healthcare industry and at a time when health information exchange, as an area of healthcare, has seen its share of barriers and challenges. At the same time, effective health data exchange is vital to many of the ongoing developments to improve the quality of patient care delivery.
As SHIEC CEO, Hoover Thompson, an attorney by background, will lead the 54-member organization and is charged with working collaboratively with the SHIEC board of directors to develop and actively advance an organizational strategy that ensures success of SHIEC and its members.
Hoover Thompson brings a decade of HIE experience, including leading development of Pennsylvania’s statewide health information exchange, called the eHealth Partnership. In that role, the HIE achieved statewide connectivity in every county by last year, and developed a patient care alert system. Prior to her work on behalf of the state of Pennsylvania, Hoover Thompson was a senior advocate of policy and regulatory matters for The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania. She serves nationally and locally as a health policy and privacy advisor.
Healthcare Informatics Associate Editor Heather Landi recently spoke with Hoover Thompson about her vision for the three-year-old HIE national association, the role of HIEs in the healthcare industry and the opportunities, and challenges, facing HIE leaders in the evolving national healthcare landscape. Below are excerpts of that discussion.
What drew to you to this new leadership role at SHIEC?
Fortunately, I’ve been able to work on health information exchange for about the last decade; it’s an interest of mine. I’m a healthcare attorney, a privacy attorney, by background, and I’ve always worked in healthcare, except for the first couple years of my career. It’s something that I’m interested in and SHIEC is an up-and-coming organization and it seemed like a good opportunity for me to be able to give back on the issue, and for folks to provide me with new insight as well.
What do you see as the role of HIEs in the evolving healthcare industry?
Health information exchange, I think, is a piece of the puzzle that when you look at where healthcare is moving toward—it is looking at breaking down silos, looking at working across the continuum, looking at things like ACOs [accountable care organizations] and supporting patients and residents as they travel, and each of the pieces of the care setting across that continuum. Health information exchange is that one cornerstone piece of the puzzle that supports the ability to look at the whole community approach for that individual patient to support things like precision medicine.
What do you see as your core focus for SHIEC moving forward?
SHIEC is only a few years old, actually, this fall, just three years old. So, one of the things that I’ve envisioned for SHIEC is really to step up and become the trusted resource for health information exchange in the country; to be the trusted voice that lawmakers and policymakers look to whenever they are making decisions. One of the best places you can be in this whole process, whether it’s legislative, regulatory or just looking at general process, that impacts an issue is that those decision makers will call you, will touch base with you, before they make any key decisions. I think SHIEC is so well positioned and is only on the cusp of just scratching the surface of all of the value that they can provide.
SHIEC has outlined one of its goals as “elevating the awareness, stature and perception of HIEs on the national healthcare landscape.” As CEO, how do you plan to do that?
One of the things that is pretty core to association management, approach and advocacy is that people don’t know all the good stuff you do, unless you tell them. So, one of the things that we’re going to have to talk through is how to capture the stories, how to capture all the good stuff that these HIEs are doing within their communities. So, talk about patient stories. One of the impacts I know about is that one of our HIEs was supportive in a ransomware attack; these are things that are very practical and valuable to show the role of HIEs and to really elevate them.
The vision of anybody that has been working on HIE, boots on the ground to make this work, is they really are in it for the right things, to support the patients. And, so, I would imagine the vision is the same, that it has been, and that it has only been stepped up in terms of the need and the interest. The fact that the board has hired a CEO and has invested in that, to move the organization forward, is a significant sign to show where HIE is headed.
It has been pointed out that technology is an important piece of HIE work, but the work that HIEs do also address issues around people and process. How do you think your background will help to address all these issues?