HIEs Necessary for Meaningful Use

Exchanging data is one of the 15 required measures physicians must meet to achieve meaningful use for the federal Medicare or Medicaid incentives. The objective for this particular measure states that a physician must have the "capability to exchange key clinical information (for example, problem list, medication list, medication allergies, and diagnostic test results) among providers of care and patient authorized entities electronically." Connecting to a local health information exchange (HIE) enables data exchanges.

Earlier this year, 17 Texas HIEs received grants from the Texas Health Services Authority (THSA) through funds provided by the federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The purpose of the program is to fund electronic health information exchange networks to support higher quality, safer, and more efficient health care. 

Texas physicians planning to exchange clinical data should commit to participating in a local HIE. Doing so does not prevent you from participating in another HIE, especially since some regions have multiple HIEs. 

The benefits of HIE participation include:

  • Exchange of patient data among disparate health care systems;
  • Improved patient safety with a clinical record that follows the patient to all providers, regardless of point of care;
  • Prevention of redundant communication and care through shared information;
  • Facilitation of e-prescribing, receipt of medication history, electronic lab ordering and receipt of lab results, allowing users to meet meaningful use standards for community data exchange; and,
  • Improved community health outcomes as a result of comprehensiveness and continuity of patient data.

For more information about HIEs and what questions physicians should ask before joining an HIE, read, "The Gift of Sharing" in the February issue of Texas Medicine. 

Physicians needing help with meaningful use and the federal electronic health record incentives may receive help from one of four Texas regional extension centers. For more information and eligibility requirements, visit the Texas Regional Extension Center Resource Center  on the TMA website, call the TMA Health Information Technology Helpline at (800) 880-5720, or email hit@texmed.org.

Action, July 19, 2011