The annual meeting of SHIEC, the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative, is next week in Scottsdale, Ariz. In a preview of the event, Healthcare Innovation interviewed Lisa Bari, the organization’s interim CEO, about which interoperability trends are likely to dominate the discussion.
Bari pointed to three major trends in HIE business development that will be highlighted during panel sessions. One is multistate affiliations. That can include the recently announced collaboration between the HIEs in Arizona and Colorado to create an organization called Contexture. Another example is the relationship formed between the Nebraska and Iowa HIEs. “The second trend is partnerships between for-profit and nonprofit organizations working together to create shared services organizations,” she said. The third trend is the statewide health data utility model, which has been promoted by HIE leaders from Indiana and Maryland, among others.
In addition to the potential for multi-state collaboration to fill HIE vacuums in some states, Bari also mentioned that new HIEs are still popping up in some other states, including Montana and Connecticut.
One session at SHIEC will include North Dakota HIE leaders describing their engagement with public health leaders in the state during the pandemic. Indeed, Bari said, the role of health information exchange, innovation, and public health partnerships is a central theme of the meeting. She said there were so many interesting stories of HIE innovation around the pandemic that SHIEC is going to have a session of five or six rapid five-minute presentations on the topic.
I asked her if besides the positive aspects, there might be stories of HIEs being underutilized in sharing public health data during the pandemic. “I'm sure that there'll be frustrations within these stories,” she responded, “and we intend to ask those questions in the follow-up: what went well, what didn't go well and what could you do differently? And these stories are evolving, right? Now we're 18 to 19 months into this thing. We see some needs come back into play. I don't know that people thought they would be seeing shortages of ICU beds again, but unfortunately here we are.”
One of the SHIEC sessions is on HIEs and the new information blocking rules. Part of that is looking at specific tools that HIEs can adopt to comply with new regulations, Bari said, adding “I think there also will be some discussion about how can we change our workflows to really accommodate patient access, which has not been a core tenet of most HIEs. What are the ways that we can meet our obligations under the information blocking rule? What are ways that we can enable easy patient access, whether it's providing information in a standardized API format or whether it's looping your HIE into a third-party app tool, something that will allow patients to easily access and use and direct their data? Again, this is relatively new for HIEs because they have not fundamentally been patient-facing tools. However, you'll see in the conference lots of different ways in which HIE s are adapting to meet the new requirements and thinking about patient access.”
In another planned session, leaders from the Idaho Health Data Exchange will talk about the role of the HIE as an integrator of social determinant data working with Aunt Bertha. Bari said other HIEs are playing a key role in sharing social determinant data. “SDOH interoperability issues are key; they're top of mind,” she said. “I think many HIEs are working with organizations like Aunt Bertha or NowPow or UniteUs as these organizations to try standardize community-based information referrals. I think it's really wise for these community referral platforms to start engaging with the HIE.”
The Office of the National Coordinator recently announced it expects the TEFCA nationwide interoperability framework to go live in 2022, making it a hot topic at the SHIEC meeting, as HIEs try to figure out their new roles. Both national coordinator Micky Tripathi and Mariann Yeager of the recognized coordinating entity, the Sequoia Project, will be making presentations. Bari stressed that there are very significant decisions for businesses in deciding whether to apply to become Qualified Health Information Networks (QHINs) under TEFCA or not. “It’s a little too soon for us to say how many QHINs will arise, but I think a significant number.”
Watch Healthcare Innovation for further coverage of SHIEC panel sessions and announcements Aug. 15 through Aug. 18.