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What is Health Information Exchange (HIE)?

Health Information Exchange is a term that can describe both a process and a provider.

As a process, health information exchange refers to the secure access and transmission of protected health information (PHI) by doctors, nurses, pharmacists, other health care providers, and patients. The primary purpose of the health information exchange process is to improve medical care. Electronically exchanging PHI allows for data to be standardized and seamlessly integrated into the electronic health record systems (EHR), overall improving patient care through greater accessibility.

Types of health information exchange
There are three forms of health information exchange.

  1. Directed Exchange: the ability to send and receive secure information electronically between care providers to support coordinated care. Learn more about Direct Secure Messaging.
  2. Query-based Exchange: allows providers to find and request information on a patient from other providers.
  3. Consumer Mediated Exchange: the ability for patients to combine and control the use of their PHI among providers.
Benefits of health information exchange
  • Improve Quality of Care: reduces medication and medical errors, facilitates continuity of care between multiple providers, allows for better health monitoring and reporting, promotes transparency of cost and services
  • Increase Efficiency: eliminates unnecessary paperwork, easier deployment of emerging technology and healthcare services, better interoperability among EHRs maintained by physicians and organizations
  • Reduce Costs: reduces costs associated with the manual printing, scanning and faxing of documents, physical mailing of charts and records, and the time and effort involved in recovering missing patient information.
    • An internal study at Sushoo Health Information Exchange showed current methods of exchanging patients’ health information accounts for approximately $17,160 of expenses annually for a single clinician practice.*

Health Information Exchange Providers

Used to identify a type of service provider, a “health information exchange” refers to a health information organization (HIO) or network (HIN) that facilitates the exchange of healthcare information across organizations. Health information exchange grants from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology have enabled the emergence of formal organizations to provide form and function for health information exchange efforts. The ONC has a range of activities to support existing initiatives and advance goals of nationwide health information exchange processes to increase interoperability, increase trust among all participants, mobilize trusted exchange to support patient healthcare, and decrease the cost and complexity of exchange.

Both private and public health information exchange providers exist. A private health information exchange is concentrated in a single community and its surrounding area. They typically raise capital from the hospitals/health systems and payers/insurers for the benefit of the physicians, providers, and patients in the community. A public health information exchange is typically chartered to cover a state or large region and get their funding from government resources. They are important in driving the adoption of nationwide health information network (NHIN) standards and bringing data exchange to rural communities.

Types of Health Information Exchange Providers

Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIOs), also called Health Information Organizations (HIO), are multistakeholder organizations created to facilitate a health information exchange among stakeholders of that region’s healthcare system. They are intended to support the secondary use of clinical data for research as well as quality of care assessment and to be the key to the proposed United States Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN). RHIO stakeholders include hospitals, smaller clinics, medical societies, and major employers.

DataMotion is certified with several types of health information exchanges.

  • Bronx RHIO, Inc: not-for-profit organization in the Bronx borough of New York City that aims to create secure, interoperable health information exchange with participating providers, who deliver the vast majority of healthcare received by the borough’s 1.4 million residents.
  • East Tennessee Health Information Network (etHIN):  HIN in Eastern Tennessee creating a network of local healthcare providers that enables quick access to patient information for medical decisions and a secure network for communication and coordination of care.
  • Knoxville Area Project Access (KAPA): a community charity program under the leadership of the Knoxville Academy of Medicine Foundation in Knox County, Tenneessee created to provide health care access for low-income, uninsured individuals. Over 1,100 physicians and providers and all hospitals in the area provide a full continuum of health care to patients with the help of KAPA.
  • Michigan Health Information Network Shared Services (MiHIN): a Michigan HIN that promotes safe exchange of health information through the MiHIN Health Information Services Cloud (HISC), representing a network of organizations coordinated to advance healthcare in Michigan through the secure, electronic exchange of health information.
  • Southeast Michigan Health Information Exchange (SEMHIE): a HIE with four host organizations: Altarum Institute, the Greater Detroit Area Health Council, and the Wayne and Oakland County Medical Societies. These organizations have earned a $1.1 million grant to further efforts to plan and put a health information exchange in place in Southeast Michigan.
  • Indiana Health Information Exchange (IHIE)The Indiana Health Information Exchange is a non-profit organization formed by the Regenstrief Institute, private hospitals, local and state health departments, BioCrossroads and other healthcare and community organizations in Indiana. It operates the nation’s largest health information exchange, providing a secure and robust statewide health information technology network that connects over 90 hospitals, long-term care facilities, rehabilitation centers, community health clinics and other healthcare providers in Indiana.


Health information exchanges operate as part of the Meaningful Use incentive program, formally known as the EHR incentive program. Learn more about Meaningful Use.

If you are an HIE or other healthcare organization seeking to efficiently exchange clinical health information, please contact us for a consultation on DataMotion Direct.

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