Health Data Management had an interesting article in the June 2009 issue on the payer role in HIEs. The core philosophy of health information exchanges (HIEs) is to bring together industry stakeholders to facilitate the appropriate sharing of patient data throughout a community, region or state. Several steps need to be taken to create widespread movement by the health plans to support heath information exchange.

These include better as is, and to be process improvement, an open dialogue between payers and providers by skilled facilitators, and a skilled team of subject matter experts at payers who understand ICD-10, X12 5010, and the impact on and modernization of the claims systems and adjudication process.

From Health Data Management, …But while HIEs have worked for years to get established, a major stakeholder – health insurers – remains absent or a marginal player in many initiatives. Some health plans still are waiting for a viable business model that will justify a major investment in HIE initiatives. Others, particularly national payers, don’t have a large market share of covered members in many of the regions that have an HIE. These payers and even regional insurers also often can’t get involved in HIEs if their employer clients aren’t sold on the idea of data exchange.

A small number of payers, however, are knee-deep into HIE initiatives. Chattanooga-based Shared Health, serving all of Tennessee, launched its HIE using claims data from two major insurers to provide physicians with a basic summary of care. Moreover, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts spent $50 million to wire up physicians with EHRs in three towns and get HIEs established there. We have answered questions that these systems can scale and how to implement them, says Steven Fox, vice president of provider network management at the Blues plan. We view it as a worthy investment and successful.

The HIE is a fundamental component of Obama’s plan to make health care more efficient and affordable.

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