By, Jack L Buxbaum, Vice President, HIE services, ACS, a Xerox company

Recently ACS was awarded the contract to implement and manage the Health Information Exchange  (HIE) for the state of Iowa.

But how exactly can HIEs improve healthcare?   

One way to understand is to think about the experience of using an online marketplace like eBay or Amazon, which have scored profiles of sellers and buyers, and summaries of their transactions. With that level of access to information, decisions can be made with near-complete clarity.

Of course, healthcare is much more complex, but there are similarities.  HIE’s that connect a critical mass of Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems across a community, region or state provide caregivers the information, analytics and decision support tools that help in making critical decisions in the care of their patients. 

The industry has developed a standard way of representing these data – a Continuity of Care Document (CCD), which is an electronic document exchange standard for sharing patient summary information.  The CCD can be shared by between information systems that conform to industry accepted interoperability standards that HIE’s must use.

Having a patient’s profile available at the point of care means when Iowans visit a healthcare provider, the focus is on care and not the search for pertinent information or documents.  This leads to improvements in care delivery and reductions in costs associated with unnecessary or duplicate tests. 

If information can be immediately and securely accessed for buying that baseball card or collectible, shouldn’t your healthcare provider have immediate and secure access to the information they need to provide the best possible care?