With the quest for digitizing health records still ongoing, the Health IT industry including sectors like Mobile Health (mHealth) and Health Information Exchanges (HIE) have managed to amass their respective audiences. Poised to transform into a multi-billion dollar industry, the Health IT sector is enticing venture capitalists and investors from all around the globe. The HIE industry alone showed an incredible growth of 40% in the last year. Many Health IT gurus believe that the government’s stance on Health IT along with the surging demand for technological innovation has been the key for this growth. “The rise in the development of mobile devices such as iPads and other tablets has given the EMR industry something to think about.”, says an industry analyst.

EMR interoperability along with Nationwide Health Information Networking will be a monumental achievement, considering the sheer magnitude of this initiative. It may take years before we are able to witness stable and commercially viable solutions. However, things seem to be moving in the right direction. The ONC has taken up a more active role in an effort to aid the development within the Health IT sector through the HIE initiative.

eHealth Initiative (eHI) is an independent authority that has tracked the progress of organizations and initiatives across the nation working in the area of health information exchange. The groups are identified as health information exchange initiatives (HIEs). In their report titled ”2011 Report on Health Information Exchange: Sustainable HIE in a Changing Landscape”, over 255 HIE initiatives were documented to be exchanging patient information between practices, hospitals and labs across the nation. However, the report further explained that while the HIE industry is developing at a good pace, there are numerous hurdles impeding its’ growth.

eHI believes that HIE initiatives must utilize the current geographical infrastructure and expand rapidly. It highlights the importance of meaningful use (MU), identifying it as a critical growth component for HIEs. It also forewarned that a delay in creating a support structure for physicians attesting for MU is likely to impair growth. Finally, it stressed on the need for secure information exchange, citing patient privacy as an integral part in securing patient trust and engaging them in the care delivery process.

The ONC also announced its plan to close three instrumental gaps in the system within the year. It plans on providing a framework along with a set of standards that will govern provider directories and their electronic addresses. It will establish guidelines for digital certificates and security of personal health information while working to establish a general set of rules to govern HIEs. “We really need rules of the road to enable that trust to emerge more broadly and more readily than in point-to-point negotiation. We think it could spur a health information exchange market and lay a foundation for future stages of meaningful use”, says Farzad Mostashari, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Reference: http://www.articlesbase.com/medicine-articles/emr-interoperability-and-development-of-hies-6046896.html