Small-Group Session

Health Information Exchange: Promise, Practice, Prospects
May 22, 2013


Lisa Sprague, MBA


Health information technology (health IT) has been part of the gospel of high-quality and low-cost health care for many years now. Can it be said that to have transformed the way care is delivered in the United States? Not exactly. Ask why, and the response is almost certain to be "interoperability," or actually lack thereof. Records limited to a single practice or other subset of a patient's various care providers are limited in their power. Recognizing this, many states and communities have put great effort into exchanging information across institutional lines. There has been progress, and some successes, but transformation remains elusive, in part because interoperability can only occur at the end of a long line of definitions, agreements, and negotiations.

Among the most-watched health information exchange (HIE) efforts are those of the 17 Beacon Communities, participants in a cooperative agreement program created under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over the last three years. In each location, health care stakeholders have agreed on common goals and strategies to use HIE to improve care processes and outcomes. This Forum session examined the current state of HIE; explored the aspirations, achievements, and challenges of those trying to make it work; and considered the lessons the Beacon experiences may hold for the rest of the country.


Shaun Grannis, MD, MS (bio)
Associate Professor
Family Medicine
Indiana University School of Medicine
Indiana Center of Excellence in Public Health Informatics
Medical Informatics Research Scientist
Regenstrief Institute, Inc.

Patrick Gordon, MPA (bio)
Associate Vice President
Rocky Mountain Health Plans
Colorado Beacon Community

David Lobach, MD, PhD, MS (bio)
Clinical Informatics Advisor
Southern Piedmont Beacon Community

Jean Wright, MD, MBA (bio)
Vice President of Innovation
Southern Piedmont Beacon Community
Edison National Medical

Jac Davies, MS, MPH (bio)
Beacon Community of the Inland Northwest
Inland Northwest Health Services

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