Health information exchange (HIE) continues to move forward in the Lone Star State. Two of Texas’s 12 regional health information networks, Healthcare Access San Antonio (HASA) and Austin-based Integrated Care Collaboration (ICC), have announced that they are the first in the state to establish the exchange of patient health information between their HIEs.
Through the connection and this inter-network exchange, physicians using the HIEs are able to reach providers in 89 counties in Central, South, and East Texas. The ability of HASA and ICC to facilitate inter-HIE exchange is the end result of collaboration between their respective HIE vendors, Medicity and Centex System Support Services and their use of Direct exchange, the platform and standards for exchange established by the Direct Project with significant guidance by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).
Physicians often are limited to exchanging information within the boundaries of the HIE in which they participate. Physicians in the HASA and ICC networks – covering 89 counties in Central, South and East Texas – can now communicate conveniently about their patients’ care regardless of these boundaries. The ability to share patient information across HIEs helps physicians coordinate care for their patients and make more informed clinical decisions.
Not only are participating providers able to send secure messages to each other, but they are also able to exchange patient summary documents. HASA intends to use the new inter-HIE connectivity to inform analytics projects aimed at quality improvements as well as to support initiatives focusing on population health management. Additionally, the experience should serve as a means to connect HIEs and federal agencies in the future.

The Benefits of Inter-Network Exchange

The partnership between HASA and ICC is the latest health IT development in Texas that involves HIE. Last week, the University of Texas at Austin announced the opening of its HIE laboratory wherein participants in its 9-week certificate program would have the ability to simulate and test HIE using real software provided by two major HIE vendors, Orion Health and Informatics Corporation of America (ICA), and several EHR developers.  “We’re trying to stay out in front,” UT Austin’s Dr. Leanne Field told EHRintelligence.com, “And our teaching and our hands-on experiences by design will help students be prepared for the latest technology that they may see in the workplace.”
The news of the connection between HASA and ICC confirms Texas’s place in moving HIE forward in advance of Stage 2 Meaningful Use, which is set to begin in 2014 for eligible professionals and hospitals in the EHR Incentive Programs.