How Can You Exchange Patient Data?

One of the greatest benefits of health information technology (HIT) and electronic health records (EHRs) is the ability to securely access and share patient information at the point of care. 

Ideally, all members of a health care team – physicians, hospitals, labs – should be able to use HIT and EHRs to share patient information through a secure network, a process called interoperability. 

Health Information Exchange (HIE) can be accomplished in different ways, and the needs and requirements vary by practice. 

While there are numerous ways to accomplish HIE, below are four types of HIE that are currently in use: 

  • Direct is a technical standard for securely exchanging health information between health care entities such as physicians, hospitals, and labs in a trusted network. Direct functions like regular email but with HIPAA security measures in place that ensure the person receiving the message is the intended recipient. Direct addresses are available from a variety of sources, including EHR vendors, public and private HIEs, and private service providers offering Direct exchange capabilities called Health Information Service Providers (HISPs).
  • Public HIEs are available around Texas, covering different regions of the state. The public HIEs can provide information about patients at the point of care. Some of the information includes lab results, medications, hospitalizations, and radiology reports. Each HIE is developing various services according to the needs of its specific region. Reach out to the HIE in your region to find out what services it offers and to learn details about participation, including cost.  
  • Private HIEs are typically operated by a hospital or health system, which controls funding, governance, and who can participate. The private HIEs offer similar patient information to public HIEs, but the data likely will be limited to the organization’s contributing sources. If you are affiliated with a health system, inquire about HIE opportunities.
  • HIT vendor interoperability can occur through organizations such as CommonWell Health Alliance and Carequality. These organizations focus on providing a cross-vendor interoperability infrastructure that is patient-centered. Physicians who are interested in this option can ask their EHR vendor whether the vendor participates in or belongs to either of those organizations. 

If your practice is still struggling with interoperability, TMA’s HIT department can help answer your questions and direct you to helpful resources. 

For more information, contact TMA's HIT Department by telephone at (800) 880-5720 or by email, or visit TMA’s online HIE resource center


Last Updated On

June 09, 2020

Originally Published On

November 13, 2018

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